Thursday, 6 August 2009


It's been a year.

I've been trying to write the story of the events leading up to, and away from, 26th August 2008 for nearly a year. I've done bits and pieces but have failed to do the whole thing.
I thought it might help to try to write down the bare facts.
I'm doing this with substantial help from Georgina's debrief report and Jessica's medical notes.
My memory of those few days in August, September and some of October is completely shot to ribbons. These reports are probably far more reliable than that mush which is laughably called my brain these days.

Random day in March 2008 - my husband and I decide that we would like to try for a baby. We were both 28. We'd been married for just over a year.

Random day in April 2008 - a positive pregnancy test.

13th June 2008 - 12 week scan, we found out that we were expecting non-identical, dichorionic-diamniotic twins.

1st August 2008 - 20 weeks scan, we found out that we were expecting twin girls. A minor problem was identified with one of the girls, a collection of fluid was found around her heart, a pericardial effusion. We were referred to a fetal medicine unit for a detailed scan.

5th August 2008 - first detailed scan. Both twins appeared to be formed normally. Both moving. Both had normal amniotic fluid, cords and placentas.

Everything about fetus 1, which I now assume has to be Georgina, was normal. Normal damnit. They checked a long list of things. All normal, including her cardiac anatomy, except for a mild pericardial effusion. Which must have been the only symptom of something else very, very wrong. But we weren't to know that. The report concludes that 'the reason for this effusion is not clear but is apparently isolated with an otherwise normal heart. Most of these resolve spontaneously, do not need treatment and have no long term significance.'

Everything about fetus 2, which I'm guessing was (is) Jessica, was normal.
Both babies were a good size for dates.
Possibly related to the fact that my husband and I are both on the tall side, he's 6ft 4, I'm 5ft 8. I sometimes suspect that this was Jessica's saving grace.

13th August 2008 - second detailed scan. Again both twins appeared to be normally formed with the exception of the pericardial effusion. This had not increased in size. Active babies, normal liquor. A likely good outcome suggested to the parents.

Tuesday 26th of August 2008 - at about 4.30 in the morning I was admitted to accident & emergency at the local hospital in premature labour, at 23 weeks and 4 days gestation. I still don't know why this happened, I don't think anyone does. I've tried every possible route I can think of to try and find out why and have drawn a blank every single time. It has been suggested that Georgina had too much fluid around her which distended my uterus and triggered the labour. No evidence of infection was found. Georgina and Jessica both appeared to be normally formed.

Medical staff attempted to stop the labour but sadly this was unsuccessful.
I was given steroids to try to prepare the girls for delivery but sadly these were administered too late to be of any use.

Georgina Jane was born at 7.08 in the morning, weighing 1lb 10oz.
Jessica Clair was born at 7.33 in the morning, weighing 1lb 7oz.
Both babies were born alive, stabilized and transferred to the neonatal unit.
I saw them at some later point but I'm not entirely sure when.
One placenta (or perhaps both) broke inside me and had to be removed in pieces. I think that took some time so it might have been a few hours after their birth that I saw Jessica for the first time. I saw Georgina immediately after her birth.

I was told that the hospital I had given birth in did not have the facilities to care for babies of such short gestation and that they would be transferred to another hospital, some 50 miles away. I met the doctor and the nurse who would travel with them. Georgina first, Jessica following after. I discharged myself at 1 that afternoon, I seem to remember struggling to have a drip taken out of my arm. I was so frustrated, I just wanted to get this drip out so I could drive to the other hospital, to see my babies.

Georgina arrived in intensive care at 17.15. Jessica slightly later. Georgina was very ill and the medical staff there worked incredibly hard to keep her alive that night. My husband and I were advised to stay at the hospital in the parents room downstairs. We were telephoned during the night asking us to come up to the ward as they were losing her. But she didn't die. Not then.

27th of August 2008 - By the next morning Georgina had stabilised a little and remained fairly stable throughout the course of the day. We touched her for the first time, placing one hand on her head and the other over her legs.

28th of August 2008 - During the night she suffered a pulmonary haemorrhage which made it increasingly difficult to ventilate her. I think this must have happened in the early hours of the morning as I remember that we reluctant to leave her that night. We had a plan to stay on the ward all night with her. But I think we left about 2am as she seemed stable and we were exhausted. But again we were telephoned during the early hours of the morning and pelted up to the ward. But she didn't die. Not then.

Later in the day she opened her eyes for the first time. Well, one eye at a time mainly. Almost winking at us. Such beautiful blue, blue eyes. She was starting to swell and I remember calling her my beautiful little barrel. She kicked her legs at me in disgust.

During the night, Georgina deteriorated again. Her kidneys started to fail and she was now being kept alive only with maximal intensive care. It was explained to us that this was appropriate given that there was still a prospect of survival. I remember asking the doctor if there was any chance, any chance at all that she could still survive this. He said yes, there was still a chance.

29th of August 2008 - But by the next morning there wasn't. More problems came to light. There was severe bleeding on both sides of Georgina's brain. Her bone marrow wasn't functioning. Her kidneys weren't functioning. It was agreed that continuing intensive care would only be delaying her death and might risk causing her distress and pain. After it was discussed with us, the decision to stop intensive care was taken and carried out.

Georgina died on the 29th of August.

I'm really not sure what time of day it was, when she died. It could have been early in the morning, mid-afternoon, middle of the night. I just don't know.

I don't even know which room in that hospital she finally died in, where her heart stopped beating. We were allowed to hold her until her heart stopped. Medical staff came in every so often to check whether her heart was still beating. We were in another room, not on the ward.
But I could never find that room again. My husband knew where we were but he wouldn't tell me. I guess that we still had something to do with that room in later days.

I do know that she tried to take three breaths on her own because I wrote it down in her book.

I remember the faces of the nurses who were with us. I found out later that Georgina was the 'first' for one of them, the younger nurse. The first baby to die whilst in her care. I felt so sorry for her.

Such a short time, summarised in so few words really.
An entire life.
My eldest daughter's entire life is here.
And yet it isn't. Not really. Not the love. Not her. Not my own sweet girl.

I think that it is my own whole life that is contained here.
All of it seems to lead up to these three days, and then away from them.

I still miss her so very much. I have cried every single day since the day she was born.

I know that to some people it might seem ridiculous to cry so very much, over a child that was born with so little possibility of survival. When I saw her for the first time, I knew that it could not be long.
Perhaps it is because of Jessica's life. She'll always holds out the possibility that Georgina's survival was just that. A possibility. A real possibility.
Perhaps it is because she is my daughter and I would still be crying if I had lost her at 10 weeks, at 20 weeks, at 30 weeks, at 40 weeks, at 2 years, at 20 years.

Reading all these reports, looking at her photographs, sitting here holding her ashes in a plastic bag. Reciting these facts. These facts that I have gone over and over and re-worked and re-worked hundreds of times. They aren't enough. Not to fill this gaping hole in me.

I'm still clutching at her blanket, the blanket she died in. Hoping to find just a tiny trace of her.

Miss you my sweet, tiny Georgie girl. My sweetest. My tiniest, tiniest darling.
Jointly, I always have to say that anything -est is a tie between my daughters. A perfect draw without a hair's breadth between them.

I am so very glad I was able to meet you before you died.
I hope that you weren't in pain.
I hope that I didn't let them hurt you.
I thought that you might live you see.
I thought you just might. They told me that you just might.
I sometimes try to imagine what you perceived during those three and a bit days but my mind just reels. What did you understand? Everything. Nothing at all.
What does such a tiny baby make of the world? I don't know.

But you were loved. You are loved. And loved. And loved. Always.
Until there is nothing left of me to love you.
That is the fact.
The only fact that I can actually make any sense out of.

I'm going to have to write about Jessica another time.
This is getting too long and I am becoming too upset.
So much for facts, they seem to hurt more than feelings.


  1. Catherine, my heart breaks for you. This must have been so hard to write. I am sorry. Your beautiful Georgina was such a fighter, I am so sorry that her body gave out before her spirit. She knows you love her and made every decision in order to save her. You did the very best you could. Thinking of you.

  2. Catherine, I am 23 weeks and 4 days tomorrow. I can't imagine, I just can't imagine. You have endured so much, and I'm so sorry. We were also both 28 when we fell preg. Young and innocent. Happy and excited about the future. Who could have imagined August 2008 turning out the way it did for us both?
    Again, I'm so sorry. Lots of love to you through these difficult days.

  3. Thank you for sharing that Catherine ... it must have been so hard for you. But I can see that your girl Georgina was a fighter ... I'm glad you got to spend those days with her. ((hugs))

  4. Laying here, crying with you, remembering with you. Such a beautiful, heartbreaking memoriam. Thank you for sharing the intimate details of Georgina's life.

  5. "What does a baby make of the world?"

    Georgina's world was a world filled with love from both Jessica and you - Love that she felt until her body gave out. Love that she still feels in spirit. Love that we all feel through your sharing - thank you.

    I am in tears right now. I know I've said it before, but my heart breaks for you. She tried so hard and was such a little fighter. You did the best that you could and she knows that you love her.

    Sending love across the ocean...

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Catherine. As you move through August, just know your Georgina is in my heart, and I'm holding you and Jessica close as you remember.

  7. Of course you loved her. And yes, we only let them do those things because we hope that we have a chance of saving them. For what its worth I believe my Jordan knows that, as I hope that your Georgina does too.

    Thankyou for sharing Catherine. So very sorry Georgina isn't here.

  8. wow, your story is heartbreaking. thanks for sharing all that. lots of love to you as you get through these next few weeks. xo

  9. August will be hard. I'll be thinking of you all and here with you, Catherine. xo

  10. I'll be thinking of you, and your girls, in the days and months to come. I'm so sorry these anniversaries are upon you. ((Hugs))

  11. Oh Catherine, thank you for sharing this. I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Georgina. I worried once that I would forget the facts, all of the details of Cayden's short life, but they're so deeply engrained.

    A friend has the following as part of her email signature and I thought of it when I read your post:

    “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

    Georgina will always take your breath away and will always be remembered. Sending love...

  12. Here from Mrs. Spit. Crying for you. Your strength is inspiring.

  13. You write so lovingly of your precious daughters. I can hear the sense of bewilderment at all that has happened to you. I am glad Georgina is known and loved in this precious space. Equally I know Jessica is an incredible baby too. She has fought incredible odds of survival. The more I learn about you, the more I think your blog name is the most apt I have ever seen.
    Sending only love.

  14. Even when your story is stripped down to the bare facts it is infused with so much love and beauty. You are an exceptional person Catherine. Love as always xxx

  15. dear Catherine,
    i read this a few days ago but had to come back to comment. i was a mess that day and this post brought a flood of tears. thank you for sharing that, i know it must have been hard. you are right, nothing is enough to fill the gaping hole. i miss your little Georgina so much for you. oh, those little girls, such little fighters. i wish so badly that Georgina was here, she has such a wonderful mother.
    much love to you and your family XO

  16. I had a hard time reading to the end of your post as I couldn't see through my tears. I am just so so sorry.

    I too was 28 when our B.W. was conceived. Seems a lifetime ago. Thank you for sharing the story of Georgina. And beyond the story and facts, your writing just exudes love for her, for your girls.

    I'm thinking of you and your girls this month and of course wishing you some peace.

  17. Thank you for sharing Georgina with us. This was hard to read, but I can imagine it was even harder to write. I know that explosive feeling you experienced that is hurt and missing stems from the monumental love you have for her.
    Thinking of you mightily.

  18. I just wish I could take away the pain for you. I am so sorry and I wish peace will find you more often than not.

    Peace, my friend.

  19. I am so sorry for your loss of your precious Georgina. This brings back so much. I often wonder how much my Jenna understood and felt. She is ok today in Heaven, but I miss her immensely. I know that writing this is hard, but I am glad you did. One day the facts (I hear from other baby lost mamas) don't hurt so bad. I cannot say that from experience, because the memories still hurt like it happened yesterday. I pray for peace and hope for your broken heart. xx

  20. Oh my God, Catherine... I am in bits reading your blog. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    Sarah xoxo

  21. This is a beautiful post. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you.