UPDATE: Michael’s wife Pip gave birth to a daughter Amelia yesterday. Everyone’s doing well.
Michael Mullins never got to know his baby son Patrick.
He was stillborn in February last year.
He’s now finally ready to talk about what it was like to lose his firstborn child and how deeply it affected him and his wife Pip and he sent this email to his friends to try and explain……
It is republished here with permission:
It has taken me a awhile to get this email together… usually it’s the general procrastination that gets me, but this time I suppose it’s about perfection… that is; that the email I write truly honours my son Patrick James ‘Beaty’ Mullins, his short life, my beautiful Pipi’s incredible courage and our experience.
Beaty was the nickname Pip and I gave him since the first scan at about 4/5 weeks when he was nothing more sac with a little heatBEAT. I can still clearly remember the moment when Pip called me at work to tell me the little sack in her belly had a heart beat… going 100 miles an hour… we were just so excited… the next 9 months will always be a time that I will hold very dear.
As the weeks flew by, to say we, our family and friends were looking forward to meeting this new person is an understatement. You do not have to have had children to understand the excitement, anticipation and build up that comes with the 40 weeks of waiting, planning, scans, weighing, budgeting and general madness that comes with the lead up once you are told you are expecting. Such an exciting and incredibly happy time.
On the 21st Feb last year, Pip was officially 10 days overdue. It was a Sunday and after returning from a swim she started to feel ‘funny’! It wasn’t long before the contractions kicked in and labour was in full swing… after 15 hrs at home and numerous calls back and forth with the hospital it was time to go in. Pip was physically shattered.
We arrive at the hospital at 5am Monday morning and were led into the room… Pip is propped up in bed and the mid wife starts attaching the heart monitor to her belly. With such a strong little heartbeat, it never took more than a milli-second to find. As I watch, the milli-seconds pass and feel like hours… everything at this point is in slow motion. The mid wife moves the monitor from one side of her belly to the other searching… I know this is not good. I can usually hear it with my ear… why can the machine not pick it up. She calmly says, “I’m having trouble with the machine… I’m just going to get another midwife”.
By this stage my head is spinning… I have to stand and leave the room briefly so as to not alarm Pip. I’m not in any way religious, but I was praying like no other… pacing and whispering to myself “Please, please, please let everything be ok”, with the most sick feeling in my stomach. I come back in after a minute or two and although there was calmness, the obstetrician’s movement and facial expression was anything but. After another minute or so, Pip says, “please be honest with me… what is wrong”. I can’t remember what she said but our worst fears were realised… Beaty had inexplicably died.
I can still feel the utter grief and pain that consumed me at that point….I had buried my father 10 days earlier, so I know grief, but this was very different and something that was just so wrong. A day which should have been the happiest day of our lives, was the absolute polar opposite… All I wanted to do was wake up from this nightmare, wrap my baby up, take him home and make him safe.
After the legally required ultrasound to confirm his recent death… the doctor strongly advised that Pip give birth naturally. My brave and courageous Pipi then spent the next 10 hours delivering our beautiful, perfect, stillborn, silent baby Patrick.
Our view of the world and lives changed forever at that point.
The reason I am telling our story, is that I am running the City 2 Surf on Sunday August 12, 2012 to raise funds for the Stillbirth Foundation and hope that the subsequent research can help. Even if it’s only one fewer couple, family, friend, acquaintance, human who benefits from not having to experience what we had to experience, it will be worth it. Patrick James is classified as a stillborn. 6 babies are delivered stillborn EVERY DAY in Australia. Statistically stillbirth is the one stat of obstetric complications that has not improved with modern medicine and in Beaty’s case there was no answer or explanation.
If you would like to sponsor me for the run, visit the Everyday Hero website using this link or you can search for me under Michael Mullins. I hope to raise $5,000 in 5 weeks.
If you or others would like more information please go the Foundation website at www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au. or drop me a line. Many thanks again for any support and more than happy for you to pass this email on to others you think would like to contribute.
‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away’. Patrick James Mullins took my breath away.
Mr Mullins told ninemsn he shared his family’s story because he wanted to honour his wife and stillborn baby, Patrick James Mullins. Pip is two weeks from giving birth and it’s an exciting, nervous time for the couple. “I wanted to give a real indication of what goes on when [stillbirth] occurs,” he said. “It’s still a taboo topic in society. It’s not really spoken about.”
Many families like Michael and Pip have been helped by the incredible work of Heartfelt – a volunteer organisation of photographers who go into hospitals to photograph stillborn babies and terminally ill children so that their parents have a record of the moments they shared. You can support their work here.
These images are being shared with the kind permission of the families.
Photo by Gavin Blue, Heartfelt