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" My Tiny Rosebud - Olivia "

by Kate Larson

My name is Kate, I am married to a very loving, generous and very very patient man. I have two daughters. My first born is Poppy, she's two and a bit and she is the light of my life. My second is Olivia. Olivia was stillborn on 14 September 1995. She has a very special place in the deepest part of my heart and in the highest point in my thoughts.

Olivia was born at 30 weeks by Cesarean after I noticed she wasn't moving around as much as usual. I rang the Doctor in the small country town that we were in at the time and the nurse there advised me to lie down for a little while and wait to see if the baby moved some more. Over night I waited and then was advised to go directly to the Maternity Ward at the hospital which was about an hour away. We got to the hospital and were sent down to admissions. Then, when the staff at admissions realized I didn't need to be admitted they sent me back up to the Maternity Ward. The nurses picked up a heart beat which was much to my relief. The Doctor on call came in and had a listen and told me it was my heart beat that they picked up and that I had to go down to have a Cesarean immediately and that there was a chance that I would lose the baby. Of course I thought great, I'll be taking my baby home a bit early.

When I woke up from the operation my husband was there next to me and through the haze of anesthetic he told me that the baby had died. My mind was in a fog from that day onwards. My body moved of it's own free will. I was in automatic mode. Pethadene made the next few days bearable. We named our baby Olivia and the nurses brought her to me. Eyes closed, sleeping, it looked like. I wanted to shake her awake and realize it was all a bad joke. That they had it all wrong. My little angel was lying in my arms but not making a noise, not searching for food, not holding onto my finger, not wriggling, not crying, not anything.

We took photos, the nurses took photos and cut some of her hair for me. They gave us her arm band and an unused tape measure. Little momentos of my tiny rosebuds existence. Nothing really to hold onto though. My Mother and my Sister flew from Sydney to be with me and we cried, alot! People came to the hospital and brought flowers, how ridiculous, they should have been coming to gaze at my little angel but she was in another town having an autopsy. So not only did I not have her at my breast but she was hours away on an operating table alone.

I had a counselor but no-one told me what I should or shouldn't do. I wanted to take off all her clothes and look at her little body. To hold her to my bare skin and keep her there. My husband didn't think I should so I didn't.

We went to Rockhampton (2 hours drive) for the Cremation and we dressed her and put her into her little white coffin and said goodbye.

My husband was very strong, I thought, until the coffin went through the doors to be cremated. That was the first and last time I saw him cry for her. I don't understand why he can accept it so readily.

This is the letter I wrote to my little girl and put it into her coffin with a rose from the dried bouquet I have sitting on my dresser;

To darling little Olivia,
Have a safe trip wherever you are going.
We will always think of you and hold you in our hearts wherever we are.
Know that we love you and look forward to the day when we can see and hold you again.
Rest peacefully with others we know will take care of you for us.
We send you on with all the love in our broken hearts.
Your Mummy and Daddy.

Then we came back to Sydney and tried to resume our normal lives. Huh, what a joke. The worst part is having to tell people when they ask "Have you had the baby?" Facing people that you know are going to ask you.

My regrets:

Not taking all Olivia's clothes and her nappy off and looking at her little body to check for birth marks,
to see if she had a bum like her sister,
to see if her toes were the same as mine.
Not holding her longer.
Not being more clear headed and remembering every little detail of her.

What if:

I went to the hospital sooner
I was at home with my own doctor
I wasn't sent to admissions first
I asked for a second opinion

A friend gave me a book of poems written by Helen Steiner-Rice
and this is the poem that I found most comfort in;

The Tiny Rosebud God Picked to Bloom in Heaven

The Master Gardener
from heaven above
Planted a seed
in the garden of love,
And from it there grew
a rosebud small
That never had time
to open at all.
For God in His perfect
and all-wise way
Chose this rose
for His heavenly bouquet,
And great was the joy
of this tiny rose
To be the one our Father chose
to leave earth's garden
For one on high
where roses bloom always
And never die.
So, while you can't see
your precious rose bloom,
You know the great Gardener
from the upper room
Is watching and tending
this wee rose with care,
Tenderly touching
each petal so fair.
So think of your darling
with angels above,
Secure and contented
and surrounded by love,
And remember God blessed
and enriched your lives, too,
For in dying your darling
brought heaven closer to you!

Thank you for reading this very long message. I feel much better now that I have written it all down and that whoever is reading it will understand how I feel.

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