Our personal story
Our daughter Coco Jessie Channells who was delivered on Tuesday 29th May 2018 at 7:12am was born still, meaning that we didn’t get to bring our little girl home and watch her grow.
This is what happened to us;
Friday 25th of May 2018 was my (Kirby) last day of work and the start of my maternity leave. Our baby was due on the 27th June 2018, but we had scheduled the caesarean for Monday 18th June 2018 We didn’t know we were having a girl or what her name would be, but for the purpose of what follows she will be referred to by her name.
On Monday 28th May 2018, my first day of maternity leave, our family found out that Coco at 35+5 weeks gestation had no heartbeat after a day of little or no movements. We were due for our scheduled caesarean exactly three weeks later on Monday 18th June. As you can imagine, this is the worst news any expecting parent and family can receive. We are all completely and utterly devastated – there are no words that can even describe how we are feeling. Coco was and is so loved by her Mummy and Daddy, and big sister Piper, and everyone who knew us leading up to her birth.
I went to the birthing suite and Newcastle Private Hospital by myself as I was just going in for piece of mind, and that everything was going to be okay. How wrong I was. At 9:30am roughly on Monday 28th May a midwife named Glenda checked for Coco’s heartbeat. She wasn’t able to find one. I rang my husband Daniel and he immediately left work and began driving the hour or so to the hospital. He was at my side by 10:30am or so. During that time the birthing suite manager Susan came in and checked for a heartbeat again, she wasn’t able to find one either. My obstetrician Lyndal Harborne was busy at the time and would be over as soon as she could to do a scan to see if a flicker of a heartbeat could be seen. Lyndal asked another obstetrician Jillian Spilsbury to come and do the scan for her. It was official, our baby Coco didn’t have a heartbeat.
Once Daniel had arrived, Lyndal arrived not long after. She was and continues to be amazing. She feels our sorrow, but she was and is so professional and dedicated to baby Coco and us. She scheduled our delivery to be at 7am on Tuesday 29th May 2018. After a couple of hours we went across to Jillian Spilsbury’s rooms for an official scan, to check Coco’s growth and for any abnormalities, there were none. She was perfect, except her heart had stopped beating.
After spending four hours or so in hospital, we went home and tried to figure out how we were going to tell our four-year-old daughter Piper that this terrible and unexpected thing happened to her baby brother or sister. Despite our own grief, this task was so heart breaking in itself. We had to tell Piper that the baby in Mummy’s tummy wasn’t alive anymore and had died because his or her heart had stopped beating. “But I want my baby sister or brother,” Piper said starting to cry and leaning in for a cuddle. We continued to explain saying that Mummy had to go to hospital and have the baby, but that we wouldn’t be able to take the baby home with us. Reiterating each time that Coco’s heart was no longer beating and that she had died.
On Tuesday 29th June we awoke early to be at the hospital by 6am. When I first awoke there was a brief moment where this had all been a dream – but reality hit hard and both Daniel and I fell in a heap. We eventually arrived at the hospital and we taken to our room in the birthing suite. We met our midwife Cheree who helped get me ready. I walked to the theatre room with the anaesthetist John Matheson and everything started to happen. I sat on the edge of the bed, not unlike last time with Piper. But the feelings and emotions were definitely not the same. Daniel and I were both crying, devastated that something like this has happened to us, and can happen to other people (6 families a day go through this!). We knew we wouldn’t be able to look into our baby’s eyes and take her home. It was shit. The pain of everything that was happening, was made so much worse by this fact. The local anaesthetic went in, along with the epidural. The pain was horrendous, I was shaking and once all of that was done, the colour of Daniel’s face got whiter and whiter. He became very light headed and almost passed out. The doctors and nurses were able to help him and after what seemed like an eternity, but was only five or so minutes, he was back up and holding my hand – after giving me a thumbs up to let me know that he was okay.
Everything seemed so different this time, the emotional pain coupled with the physical feelings of what was happening. Lyndal then brought over our baby and told us that we had had a girl. A little sister just like Piper had wanted. Lyndal placed her onto my chest. She looked perfect; everything about her was perfect, except she had no heartbeat. We spent many moments looking at our new darling daughter wishing that this was all a bad dream and that she would come back to us. Daniel and I were in awe of her beauty and of each other. As I was wheeled into recovery, Daniel held our baby girl, and as he passed her over to me we discussed her name. We decided on the name ‘Coco’ as Piper had been calling the baby in Mummy’s tummy ‘Coco’ for about three months. And because Coco is a girl, we thought it fitting as Piper had already made an attachment with the baby and that name. If we were to have named her something else, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become familiar with that name like most families do when they take a baby home, because we couldn’t take our baby home. Coco’s middle name is Jessie after my Grandma, meaning that her initials are CJ, and Piper’s initials are PJ. “CJ and PJ,” Piper said when we told her.
Once out of recovery we went back to our room in the birthing suite and spent some time cuddling Coco before Piper came in to meet her baby sister that she would never be able to take home and play with. Piper was thrilled to know she had a baby sister, and acted like any four year old would meeting a new baby and her new sister. Except Coco wasn’t alive and didn’t do the things that babies do. Piper held Coco many times, gave her kisses and cuddles, helped give her a bath as this was something we had talked about many times. Piper was and continues to be amazing, our little light and source of joy. She knows we are upset and tries to do nice and silly things to make us smile and laugh.
Every moment that followed after has been just as difficult. From getting Heartfelt photographs taken only a few hours after Coco was born, to getting impressions of Coco’s hands and feet, to talking with a psychologist, placing Coco down in the cuddle cot and not being able to feel the warmth of a newborn baby, not being able to feed her and stare into her eyes for endless amounts of time, and just be in awe of this baby that my husband and I created and love. Our hearts continue to break each moment of the day.
Coco’s service was on Monday 4th June. This was another hard day for all of us. We spent so long wishing for this baby to be in our lives, loving her endlessly each day inside my belly, for her to not come home with us. We are broken, and our hearts with never fully heal. We will always love and remember you Coco. You are our daughter, our little sister, our granddaughter, our niece and our friend. You have so many people on Earth and beyond that love you endlessly. The ones with you now will continue to look after you until we meet again.
Our Obstetrician Lyndal, the three midwives and other medical professionals throughout our time in hospital were all incredible, and in this terrible experience, we were so lucky to have them surrounding us with their care and love. Lyndal has been brilliant and checks on us often. Thank You.
Each day continues to be a struggle. But we are getting there one step at a time. Our photos from Heartfelt allow us to remember Coco in a more hands on way. Without these physical memories to look back on, we would be more lost than we already are.
We love you Coco Jessie Channells, so much, and as Piper has told us many times, “you are playing in our hearts and in our dreams”.
We are fundraising in memory of our gorgeous Coco. We are raising money for a causes/services that’s close to our hearts.
We want to make a difference in reducing the number of stillbirths in Australia. There are six babies a day that are stillborn and six families a day that are going through the same hell as we are.
Bears of Hope provided us with a teddy bear in memory of another child, other gifts and resources about our situation. Bears of Hope raise money to give hospitals a ‘cuddle cot’. This cuddle cot allowed us to have Coco by our side for as long as we could, giving us the opportunity to get to know our girl as best as we could. We needed all of the time we could get. The support that they have given us has been amazing, and the information provided was well written, to the point and considerate.
Heartfelt were at the hospital a couple of hours after Coco was born to capture the precious time we had with our little angel. The images that Heartfelt have given us has allowed us to grieve in our own way, and remember that our little Coco is a big part of our family even though she isn’t with us in the flesh.
The Stillbirth Foundation of Australia is making a difference to reduce this number is going to be done through research, awareness and advocacy. We also want to help families like us who are going through this same experience.
Thanks so much for your support in our family, Coco’s memory and Coco’s Fizz! We truly appreciate it.