Amelia's story - in loving memory of Isla Eve Ruben

24 Mar 2022

We wrote a letter to Isla on the back of one of the photos of us as a family. 

Amelia - Isla Eve Ruben's mum 

On Christmas eve, I woke to very painful cramps so I went to the bathroom and noticed blood.  I was 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant at the time. 

My husband and I went straight to the closest emergency department. I remember standing in triage waiting to be seen as blood slowly trickled down my legs.

It was a slow agonising wait until we were finally rushed to the maternity assessment unit where I was seen to by one of the obstetricians. She performed an ultrasound which showed our baby girl alive and well.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound also showed that my cervix was dilated and my membranes had begun to bulge out of the cervix. 

It was unfortunately too risky to perform a cerclage due to the blood and they were worried about rupturing the membranes and further progressing labour. 

So, I was then transferred to the birthing suite.

We had some hard conversations about what would happen if our baby girl was born extremely premature.

Ten days later, after hospital bed rest, progesterone and prophylactic intravenous antibiotics, I had reached 22 weeks pregnant and I was transferred to a tertiary hospital for more specialist care. I spent the next week on strict hospital bed rest as well as continuing the progesterone medication. 

Each day was a slow agonising wait, hoping with all our being that the membrane wouldn’t rupture and that our baby girl would stay inside for as long as possible. 

My husband was basically my personal carer, helping with everything from bed pans, to changing pads (as I was still bleeding), helping me with bed baths as I was unable to shower. 

I felt like a pin cushion with multiple blood tests, cannulas and various medications. But the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional and mental pain of the unknown. 

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Living everyday minute by minute. 

Never knowing if labour would begin to progress again or if the membranes would rupture or if our little girls' heart would stop beating. 

Follow up scans highlighted that our baby girls' legs were in fact coming out of the uterus into the open cervix and further down, even after spending almost 2 weeks in bed and half of that laying in the Trendelenburg position. 

They also identified a 5cm clot on the placenta, which the Doctors said could have brought on preterm labour.

We were shattered with the results and once again had some hard-hitting discussions about what resuscitation looks like for an extremely preterm baby. 

We decided that we’d try and make it to 23 weeks for any kind of resuscitation, but our ultimate goal was to keep her in to give her the best possible chance. 

We tried to remain hopeful, but constant talk about the likelihood of me delivering sooner rather than later really weighed heavily on our shoulders. 

On Sunday 8 January, I experienced intense and painful contractions which were only relieved by intramuscular morphine.

I was advised by doctors that there was a risk of sepsis for my daughter and I.

By the following day, Isla Eve Ruben was born prematurely at 23 weeks.

Our little Isla entered the world at 01:20am. Her little heart was beating and she was breathing. 

The medical emergency neonatologist team tried to assist our baby girl with her breathing after birth. After what felt like an eternity, the doctor came over to me and said she wanted for me to hold my baby girl while she still had a heartbeat, as her little lungs were not strong enough at 23 weeks, even with the steroid injections.

Her warm little body was placed on my bare chest and our darling Isla passed away in my arms surrounded by the love of her Mummy and Daddy. 

I remember wailing for our baby girl and the doctors and our midwife, stood around us looking sombre and heartbroken for us.

After some time passed, our wonderful midwife brought us an outfit for our baby girl which we were able to dress her in. 

We were able to cuddle and kiss her and take some photos of her all warm and cosy in her little beanie, knit cardigan and wrap.

The midwife brought in a cuddle cot, which is a cot designed for babies who have passed, so parents are able to spend time with them. 

Isla lay peacefully in the cot.

I was overcome with emotion and asked her if there was more that I could have done?

The midwife held my hand and bent down and said there was nothing else that could have been done. 

The morning shift midwife organised some photos to be taken of us as a family and some of Isla by herself.

We wrote a letter to Isla on the back of one of the photos of us as a family. 

We placed the butterfly embroidery I had made for her whilst on hospital bed rest.

We dressed her in another outfit that she would be cremated in. We kept her little outfit that we first dressed her in.

We had the butterfly embroidery cremated with Isla and since being back on the Gold Coast, I've been seeing butterflies in some shape or form almost daily. I believe that the butterflies are a sign from our Isla. She's come home with us! 

Despite all the pain, I would do it all again, ten times over, if it meant our baby girl was still here. 

Forever in our hearts and minds.

Our eternal love always, 

Mummy and Daddy.

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