#stillBORN Campaign - Otis' Story

Published on: 27/03/2017

November 7th 2015 – we saw those two pink lines on a pregnancy test. I didn’t know what people would think about me having three children at 22. I just knew, in that moment, that I wanted you, and that I loved you.I told family and friends right away because if something had happened to you then I didn’t want to ‘do it’ alone. Everything went well. On January 6th, I had a dating scan confirming that we were 14 weeks pregnant; you were perfectly formed, perfectly healthy. I had no reason to worry. We were SAFE. We reached 18 weeks and curiosity got the better of me, so I had a gender scan and found out that we were expecting a little boy – you are my first son!I’m not a decisive person at all, so I didn’t choose your name for a while after. I wanted to be sure that it was perfect for you; that it was YOUR name; that, when you were born, I couldn’t imagine you being named anything different. I completely believe, in hindsight, that I made the perfect choice.

At 20 weeks, I attended our anomaly scan. I wanted to wait until we had this one to make sure everything was okay before spoiling you. You passed with flying colours! Perfect in every single way; growing well; nothing at all wrong with you. I was definitely safe at this point.

natalie-oldhamApril 11th 2016 – 27 weeks pregnant. I went in to early labour but thankfully, after 3 weeks of continuous trying and constant contractions, it was stopped. I had a scan a couple of days before leaving hospital on May 11th and you were still perfectly healthy. I loved seeing you grow, and watching you thrive.

I went home. On May 12th I moved house. The first thing I did that day was organise your nursery. I decorated your walls with animals; I put up your cot and furniture; and laid down your rug – your nursery was ready for you to come home to.

On May 15th, mummy got poorly and was admitted to hospital. JUST to be on the safe side, and after orders from my consultant, we had a growth scan to make sure you were coping okay. It was scheduled for the day after.

I loved seeing you on that screen again. I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms but I had NO idea that it would be only a couple of weeks later …

You arrived Earthside on June the 3rd, 2016. You have the most beautiful little button nose, perfect little toes, quirky elf ears and your daddy’s lips. You weighed 5lbs1oz and you measured 54cm long. You were, and are, pure perfection. I had spent weeks growing to love you, getting to know you. The second I laid eyes on you, I fell in love with you all over again …

You were named Otis. You were born, as the sun was rising, at 04:19am. We spent the morning cuddling in the hospital bed in the delivery room, before being moved in to a different room next door. Later that day, your two big sisters, Cora and Maisie, came to meet you. They were SO excited. They had felt you kick, they had helped choose your name, they had decided on your nursery theme and had been shopping for clothes – they could not wait to have their baby brother home. The second they saw you they fell completely in love with you. They held you, kissed you, poked your teeny toes and stroked your perfect little hands.

The night you were born I slept with you beside me. I sang to you the same lullaby that I sang to your big sisters the night they were born; I read you a story – the same one I read to you for the 35 weeks you grew inside me; I held you to my chest, your skin on mine, as I nuzzled your perfect head of fuzzy, black hair.

We spent 3 days in the hospital together then it was time for us to go home.

natalie-oldham-2It took me an hour to dress you in to your coming home outfit. You were so fragile and I didn’t want to hurt you. I unwrapped you from your blanket and slowly took off your baby grow. I tried to remember every last tiny detailed feature of your perfect body, from the shape of your eyebrows to the creases on your feet, because I knew you wouldn’t stay that way forever.

You were so perfectly formed.

Daddy arrived. We were ready. I wrapped you up in your blanket and I held you to my chest. I cuddled you and gave you a kiss on your forehead, before telling you I love you and laying you down.
Grandad carried you out of the room and he placed you, so delicately, in to the back of the car.

I looked around me and saw all the windows. I knew that, behind those windows there were new babies everywhere. I knew that people were also celebrating the arrival of their bundles.

Everything was perfect. YOU were, and are, perfect. But taking you home that day, it broke my heart.

It broke my heart because you had just been placed in to the back of a car that would take you to a different home than the one I was going to. I was going to MY home, and you were going to YOUR home, at the Chapel of Rest.

You were born forever sleeping. Stillborn, but still born.

Instead of registering your birth, I registered your death.

I’ve been on autopilot since I was sat in the office of a Neurosurgeon at 34 weeks pregnant being told, after a pretty problem-free pregnancy, that you weren’t going to survive beyond birth; that, as soon as you were disconnected from my oxygen supply, you would suffocate and die, in front of me. You wouldn’t be able to breathe by yourself. It was inevitable that you were going to pass away and the chances of you making it beyond the next few days was next to nil.

I spent the next few days in turmoil. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make the most of having you, alive, with me. But, I knew that you would soon be ‘gone’ … You gave us 7 more days of love before you grew your wings. Your little heart stopped beating, after the most courageous fight, at 35 weeks gestation.

During those 7 days, I had ordered your burial outfit. It got delivered on the 28th of May, while you were living and kicking inside me. I received your memory box on that day, too. The pain I felt in my chest when opening the door to those deliveries is a feeling beyond comprehension, knowing that you were alive and I was here, partially planning life after your death; I felt like an awful mum.
It’s hard. I keep trying to put in to words how I feel but nothing justifies this pain of having to live without you.

Do I think you could have been saved? Absolutely I do. A blood test from your daddy at my booking appointment would have resulted in an early diagnosis of Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia, the condition that later killed you – it is a paternally genetic condition. A non-delayed delivery could have possibly saved you. A quicker process once we found out there was a problem with you, instead of enduring the two weeks we waited, would probably have saved you.

Instead of reading you bedtime stories in a cosy chair, I read bedtime stories for you sat at your graveside.
Instead of buying you toys, I buy you flowers for your grave.
Instead of cuddling you to sleep, I cuddle the blanket you were wrapped in from birth until the day of your funeral to sleep.
Instead of watching your big sisters dote on you, I watch them cry over missing you.
Instead of kissing you goodnight, I kissed you goodbye.

You fought SO hard. I am so, so proud to be your mummy. I am beyond honoured to have carried you and I am blessed that you chose me. .

You are my son. You are mine and I am yours, regardless.

Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; you are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure. I hope you’re sleeping peacefully sweet boy. Love, Mummy x
Natalie Oldham