19 March 2015 is a day that Kenny and I will never forget. We cradled Kara in our arms, cherishing our final moments with her. She left this world at 12.15pm.
She arrived on Monday 16 March, 7.23pm, weighing 704g. She was beautifully tiny. Kenny and I didn’t get the chance to see or hold her as the nurses and neonatologists whisked her off to NICU the moment she was out.
My water bag broke two days prior and we kept her in for as long as we could. She was only 25 weeks and 6 days old. I didn’t have any signs of infection then but came down with a fever at 3pm that Monday. It was the first telltale sign of infection. I had to deliver her immediately. She arrived that evening, at exactly 26 weeks.
Image source: iStock
Every precious moment counts
Miraculously, she pulled through the first night with her neonatologist by her side. Her doctor confessed later on that he wasn’t sure she would survive that night. But she did - and managed to keep that up for the next two days in NICU.
We visited her every morning, afternoon and night. As we couldn’t touch her, we wanted her to see us as many times as she could throughout the day. We could only touch her, reaching out from the outside of the incubator.
I cried each time I was by her side. We were simply afraid of losing her. The sight of tubes and equipment was frightening, especially on a tiny bub. Each time we visited her, she was asleep. But we made it a point to speak, sing and touch her. She responded each time, signalling with her tiny hand or foot.
Every hour was precious. Every hour that she lived and breathed increased her chances of survival.
The end of the fight
Things took a turn for the worst later that week. She came down with an infection, pneumonia and brain haemorrhage. That was a tall order for any baby to fight, let alone a 26-week-old preemie. I got discharged that Wednesday but we were called back to the hospital three times after, with the final call at 3.35am on Thursday morning. When we arrived at NICU then, the neonatologist told us that Kara’s departure was just a function of time. We were devastated.
But deep down inside, we knew it was for the better. She would be in a better and peaceful place. She had been fighting for her life since the day she arrived. She fought hard. And we knew she was tired. Her movements had slowed down from the night before and we knew letting her go would be the right thing to do. We decided to take her off all the support that morning itself. She opened her eyes and saw us. It warmed and broke our hearts at the same time. We then held her for an hour before she took her final breath at 12.15pm. That was the hour she decided to join her little sister.
[caption id="attachment_142398" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The day we collected Kara's remains, which we kept in a pouch, in a musical box.
Maddox placed the box next to him in front of the TV. He asked to watch TV with her.[/caption]
We never expected this. I had been on bed rest from the time I was pregnant with her. We never thought we would be left with this outcome despite everything that we had done. I asked myself, “What do I need to do to carry another full term and healthy baby.?” Our first son, Maddox was born at 39 weeks, and is growing well. Am I not able to bear another child again?
As of today, we are still learning to cope with Kara’s passing. There were many moments in a day that I would tear up or break down crying. The sight of a baby, a pregnant mum, a sad song, baby girl’s outfit, a child’s laughter. This was our second loss in the past year, and both were girls.
We never imagined that this would ever happen to us. We may smile or laugh when our friends visit us but deep down inside, we felt the pain and loss. Deep down inside, we were very broken.
I don’t know what else to say except we’ll learn to take each day at a time. This road seems familiar to me, as I grieved when we lost our first baby girl. At the same time, the depth of grief has not changed. I guess only time will heal us.
Coping with the loss of a newborn: The pages of our letter to Kara, the morning before she passed on.
This article is dedicated to our baby girl, Kara May Chin
Born on 16 March 2015, 26 weeks
We said our last goodbyes on 19 March 2015