“Flynn is a much-loved member of our family even though he isn’t physically here.”
Rebekka - Flynn's Mum
My pregnancy with Flynn surprised my husband Nathan and me. We thought we were done with 4 children but at the end of May 2021 I took a test and to my surprise, two lines showed up. It took a long time to wrap our heads around having another baby, but we were excited to be adding to our family.
We went to our 19-week ultrasound excited to see our little boy and everything was fine until it wasn’t. Flynn had fluid in his chest that wasn’t supposed to be there. We were immediately referred to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine unit an hour and a half from home and saw them for the first time a week later.
From 20 weeks we had weekly ultrasounds with the MFM team to monitor the fluid. We eventually had every genetic test possible to see if there was a reason this had occurred, but everything came back normal. After about 5 weeks of monitoring, the fluid was too much and his lung wasn’t growing so we had to have our first in utero procedure. This meant having needles through my abdomen into my uterus and then into Flynn’s chest to manually take the fluid away.
In utero procedures are extremely traumatic but I wanted to do everything I could to help my baby.
Unfortunately, the fluid came back within a few days and we had to have a shunt put into Flynn’s chest to continuously drain the fluid into the amniotic sac. Again, It worked for several days but then the fluid came back. A second shunt was inserted and the same thing happened - it worked for a little while then stopped.
We had to face the horrible choice of doing a 3rd shunt, delivering him then at 29 weeks or doing nothing. Doing nothing was not an option. We chose the 3rd shunt even though I was extremely emotional because the first two had taken a toll on me. I wanted to do everything I could to help my baby. The 3rd shunt procedure was performed with a lot more anaesthetic and the fluid was drained at the same time. Each time one of these procedures was carried out, there was always a risk of infection or pre-term rupture of membranes. The 3rd shunt was working at our one-week follow-up and we were scheduled for another follow-up on 7th December, 13 days after the shunt had been inserted.
On 6th December, I had been having regular Braxton-Hicks contractions which suddenly turned painful. I attended my local hospital birth unit to assess whether I was in labour because although I have had four children, I had never gone into labour spontaneously.
Despite having contractions every few minutes, they determined I was not in labour and that my cervix was fully closed. But they were going to organise a transfer anyway since I had an appointment the following day. An hour and a half after being told I wasn’t in labour while waiting for a transfer, my waters broke. Twenty minutes later Flynn was born at 31 weeks 4 days, weighing exactly 2 kgs. My husband Nathan missed the birth and hearing the only cry Flynn ever made. After being worked on for almost three hours, Flynn was put into my arms where his heartbeat for the last time.
Telling our children their brother wouldn’t be coming home was absolutely devastating. They were all excited for another baby but in an instant, their lives crumbled. It wasn’t just losing Flynn that broke me, it was the lead up to his birth and then the aftermath of having to tell his siblings.
Once life went back to our new normal I contacted Sands. It was helpful to talk to someone who had also lost a child.
Though Flynn is not here growing with us, he is still very much part of our lives. Every day we talk to him, we cuddle with his bear and his older siblings draw pictures for him. During the day his urn sits in our loungeroom and at night it is by my bedside. We make sure that anyone who receives a family card from us, receives it from the whole family, Flynn is always included. For our first Christmas as a family of seven, all the kids had a stocking hung.