Jacki and Luke's story - In loving memory of Oakley

24 Mar 2022

My name is Jacki and I want to share our story about our boy Oakley for Say Their Name day. 

Jacki - Oakley's mum 

My husband Luke and I fell pregnant for the first time back in 2020 after 5 months of trying. It was a healthy and straightforward pregnancy and a very long early labour, which started spontaneously at 41 weeks. I had been in early labour for a full day and went to get checked at the hospital and was told I was only 2cm dilated. I was sent home with Panadeine Forte and told to try and get some sleep.

I was able to have a couple of hours and felt like I needed to get distracted so I chucked my Tens machine on and headed down to a friend’s birthday at Footscray Park. I knew within myself that nothing would be happening any time soon and we were close enough to the hospital that if things really ramped up we could head over, bags packed and ready in the car of course! 

In the early hours of the next morning we made our way back into the hospital as I felt like things were really ramping up and I wasn’t coping, I was truly exhausted. I decided for an epidural to manage my fatigue and had it administered not long after my arrival. I was still only 2cm!

Six hours of having the epidural in and we were told we might be able to start pushing soon so another dilation check would be done. The last thing I remember hearing is my husband saying “she’s turning blue”. I awoke to be told that I had had my baby.

My epidural wasn’t managed correctly and I had gone into cardiac arrest, needing CPR for about 12 minutes as my daughter was born by forceps delivery. She also needed CPR. Thankfully we both survived the ordeal, all within view of my husband, but he and I have suffered psychologically, feeling really let down by the system. 

Ten months on we found out we were pregnant again! This exciting news came with A LOT of anxiety. We did so much work in preparation for the labour of our little boy, with support from psychologists, a psychiatrist and an amazing midwife.

I was extremely thankful to be pregnant with a baby that moved, kicked and wriggled so incredibly much. I always loved the feeling of your baby swirling and whirling around in your belly! It was because he was so active that I knew right away when something wasn’t quite right at 31 weeks.

My movements had changed and reduced so we presented to the hospital for monitoring. The CTG showed nothing of concern and we kept getting told that he was just sleeping/having quiet time. I went back in the next day for further monitoring and a scan that again indicated no issues. I left the hospital somewhat reassured but not confident with what I was experiencing.

A couple of days later and I woke with the sole intention of just lying on the couch and trying to feel any kind of movement. All day I laid and by the time Luke got home from work I was in hysterics. I knew something wasn’t right. 

We called our midwife who said to go into the hospital where after a solid 5 minutes of trying to find a heartbeat the attending midwife went and had the doctor come in to do a scan. After another 10 minutes of looking we were told they just wanted to get all the information just in case and they were having issues with the machine they were using, apologising constantly.

The whole time I was trying to be neutral and not get upset as never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would lose a baby after the experience of our first. The world surely couldn’t be that cruel. We were moved to another room where there was a different machine available. Life definitely is this cruel.

A warm heartbroken hand was placed on mine and we were told that there wasn’t a heartbeat. Luke had been looking at the screen the whole time and was already starting to get quite upset as he couldn’t see the obvious flickering of a heartbeat. Once it was confirmed we both completely broke down, taking it in turns screaming and falling into ourselves in tears.

Not long after the reality of the situation hits you are reminded you still have to endure a full labour. I remember saying over and over “I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to have to do it, I can’t”. How can you possibly go through the pain and exhaustion of giving birth and not have a baby to take home at the end? How can you not have another child to share all your love with? 

We opted to go home that night to be with our daughter and went back into the hospital the next day. I didn’t sleep. We just laid in bed crying all night as it kept hitting us like a shovel to the face what was happening. 

Thankfully the support from the hospital was incredible and we were able to get through the day and night of an induced labour. My body wasn’t ready to let go of our son. It felt like a battle in the beginning but as I started to move into transition, I decided I was ready to meet him and with support from Luke I geared up to give myself a gift I wasn’t able to receive with our daughter - the experience of a beautiful natural birth. 

Our boy was sitting breach so early discussion around what to expect as a result of that from our midwife was so valuable. I was able to have a natural birth, one where Luke was able to catch him and I was able to bring my baby up to my chest, which is something I had longed for. 

Oakley was born at 9.05am on the 31st March 2022, weighing 1.8 kilos and 45cm long. He was the most precious looking baby. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was kiss him goodbye and leave him. 

There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and my heart breaks every time. All of the what ifs and moments not shared. Christmas no longer has the significance it once did and I am dreading his first anniversary.  

Since having Oakley, I have started up a little business to raise money for Stillbirth Foundation with a product that aims to help support mums bond with their new baby. I have designed and made feeding blankets that encourage skin to skin contact and keep the mum cosy at the same time. It’s a little passion project I threw myself into to give Oakley’s life some sort of purpose as there is no silver lining to a baby dying. 

Further to all of this, 3 months after Oakley’s birth, we found out we were pregnant again with another little boy who was due basically on Oakley’s birthday.

I want to share our story to show other mums that while we may not feel “strong” as we constantly get labelled, we are gritty. We want to share the tales of our children - as gut wrenching as they are it’s all we have. To live this heartache takes grit. To be there for your other children takes grit and to wake up every day takes grit.   

To Red Nose I want to say thank you for all the work you guys do. It’s absolutely invaluable. I couldn’t imagine living in a time where women couldn’t share their stories. 

Say Their Name Day is on March 25 – a special day to remember all of the little lives we have loved and lost, and support bereaved families.

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