In Memory of Caitlyn

Nicky courageously shares the story of her daughters birth and death, and the arrival of her son


I was due to give birth 11 January 2009. The morning of the 10th I started getting the pains about 2am and thought ‘gee this is it’. My husband and I were quite excited and nervous. Got up, had a bath, rang Taupo Maternity at 9am. By then I was getting contractions 5-10 minutes so a long way off. Their reaction was ‘well that’s exciting’ and ‘sounds like you still have a long way to go. They didn’t offer the check my midwife had promised before I got in the car to go to Rotorua.

I had always intended to go to Rotorua Hospital to make sure help was there if I needed. Not that I was expecting anything to go wrong as pregnancy had been textbook. So this reaction just confirmed my thoughts about the birthing centre not being for me.

At 12 I rang Rotorua Hospital and they said to come in when contractions were about a minute and 5 minutes or less. We decided to leave home (in Taupo) at 1pm and went straight to a motel to sit it out. At 3pm things were getting serious so we headed in. Much to my disappointment I was only 3cm so we went for a walk around the grounds. By 5 things were heating up….you can imagine all the next bits.

I remember when things had been going on a while they told me I was 5 cm and doing really well. I couldn’t believe I was only 5cm after all that time!! No one could ever have told me about the pain. Anyway, pain gas pain gas pain gas…it was all intense.

At around midnight I was told to push. Hooray! But not so great…more pain. Just awful.

My little daughter was born 1245am. When she came out one of the first thing I heard was “Shane push the emergency buzzer NOW”.

I was in a daze, having just given birth to my first baby and in shock over what happened. I honestly thought I was going to die. So when they carried Caitlyn Jade (named after my mother Lyn and mother in law Catherine) over to the table, blue and floppy, it didn’t really hit home. Even when they told me she was in trouble but they were helping her breathe. It took 5mins for her to take her first breath and at around 9mins post birth the pediatrician came in.

Then followed a mass exodus, where everyone went to intensive care. I should re-emphasize there was no indication this would happen during any of my labour.

Babies heart was checked sporadically throughout. So, I was left alone for a few minutes, no baby, no husband (I sent him with our girl), no midwifes…thinking…oh my god, what is going on. It was the most lonely and confusing moment of my life.

After I was stitched up (I had 2nd degree tears) they wheeled me in to see her and she was hooked up to all the tubes in the world. But she was breathing. She looked very scared and wise beyond her years. For some reason she didn’t look like a newborn.

I was shattered and could only think of sleep. They assured me they were doing everything but she was not well and would be transferred to Hamilton Hospital. I was to go over there. At first by helicopter, then by ambulance as the weather turned for the worse. They had to stabilize her first for travel. At around 5am the helicopter arrived and they went for that option. But the incubator was playing up. At 6am I sat exhausted in a little room and they said to come as she was not doing well.

I walked in to find them doing compressions and it was so surreal. Shane started crying and I felt like I was watching from afar. She came right so they put her in the incubator ready for the flight.

I walked outside with her (well hobbled actually as my leg was numb for some reason). I was told there was no room for me in the helicopter due to fuel and incubator weight so Shane had to drive us. All the time they kept saying she was sick.

So we drove over to Hamilton Hospital, in silence. Parked in the car park and made our way to intensive care.

I could barely walk and was bleeding so heavy. I was so scared. No one had even checked me. Thank god for my strong husband. We managed to find the place and they pointed us to a room. We sat down and they said ‘we’re sorry but your daughter was announced dead on arrival…(long silence)…would you like to see her”.

I wont go into more details about how I was feeling as I’m getting upset, but of course we did. The police came, made us sign something for an autopsy. That was the first time I even got to hold my dear little and perfect girl. During those first moments another nurse barged in and started making hand and foot prints. In hind sight it was an invasion. We were in a room with other sick babies, just with a curtain. It was awful.

Luckily my parents arrived minutes after we got the news. After a couple of hours we hobbled back to the car, paid our parking ticket, and drove back home to Taupo. That was it. Silly thing was it took until 3 days later for someone to even come and check on me and that was only because my mum rang the doctors and demanded it.

Jumping now to 3 months later, to the day, and what do you know, a positive pregnancy test. Can you believe!?. Weird thing was some friends gave us a weekend away in Rotorua to recover. We waited a couple of months until we were at a place where we could enjoy it. And enjoy it we did! We made another baby on Caitlyns recovery weekend. The strange thing was I went and sat in a church opposite the hospital in Rotorua where I had not been since Caitlyn was born. I cried and cried and felt so close to her. I asked her if she could talk to some people in powerful positions as Shane and I would like something to celebrate if possible, and I got pregnant. Now I’m not superstitious, nor am I a hugely spiritual person, although we do go to church regularly. But wow! So, a very nervous and anxious pregnancy. I can’t even begin to explain my emotions this time around. In hind sight a terrible but good year, so many mixed emotions.

Birthing experience no. 2.

Close to due date I was in tears almost every day. I was due 16 Jan but they decided to induce me on the 7th. My baby was larger and I was carrying fluid. They also didn’t want me to reach the same placenta age as Caitlyn, or let me go into labour naturally.

We arrived at Rotorua Hospital on the 7th. Got induced and almost went into labour straight away. Yay I thought, we will get a result before too long. I just want the ordeal over!

By 12 I was contracting almost every minute and they were lasting less than a minute. However, I was checked at 2pm and was only 1cm dilated. Synthetic contractions they said…can you believe it! Uterus not cervix.

At that point I had a melt down and then a down load to the obstetrician and midwife, just about how scared I was. They told me 90% of women that had been through what I’d been through would opt for a c-section so I was their hero and being very brace. Me? How silly I thought.

So I told them I’d stick it out, see how the night went then make a decision about what to do the next morning. Shane and I went walkies again. By about 4 the next morning the midwife wasn’t happy with the monitoring (forgot to mention I was all wired up – they’d check me every couple of hours, my contractions and babies heart rate). They said my uterus was being over stimulated and it was causing stress to baby. Oh no I thought again. So they removed the cervical ribbon and I had a nap.

But, I kept contracting and by 7am I was 3cm, enough for them to break my waters. So they did but my naughty baby switched sides in the process (he had been in the perfect position until then). At 12 I was hooked up to syntocinon and it was all on! Active labour within an hour.

The next couple of hours are blurry. Lots of visitors and discussions over the monitor. At 4 the Obstetrician delivered the news that baby was stressed. I was still only 5 cm and had a long way to go (I was up for it though). I have to admit I did freak out. Why wouldn’t I.

Babies heart rate was not recovering after each contraction and we still had a long way to go. So after how many hours was that…7am previous morning to 4pm, I got the news I was going for a c-section. No more risk taking. I burst into tears. I was so scared. I’ve never been to hospital before, never needed any procedures. I was so scared of what would happen to my baby. It was so emotional.

They wheeled me into theatre and started the operation. My husband was right there holding my hand. I couldn’t stop shaking. Then I heard a gurgle and they told me it was my baby, crying before he was even pulled out. Shane lost it (crying all over my face!) which set me off (I’m almost crying now) then they took him to a table and told me he was perfect. They brought him over and ne nuzzled. He latched immediately and ate for almost 2 hours!!!

We named him Michael David after St Michael – he is the strong protector. It was St Michael’s church I was sitting in when I said my words to Caitlyn so it seemed right. David is my uncle and Shane’s brother who have passed on.

The staff at Rotorua Hospital were amazing during Michael’s birth. I also have no complaints about them during Caitlyn’s birth either – no one knew she was in so much trouble. It’s all hind sight now anyway so being upset about how people treated me or thinking of ‘what ifs’ is irrelevant. What does really upset me is how all first time mothers are considered ‘low risk’ by default until something serious goes wrong. If I’d had the continuous monitoring during Caitlyn’s labour her distress would have been evident. There’s another what if. I think all new mothers should be high risk until proven otherwise.

I understand you probably wont publish this on your site but quite honestly it’s the realities of child birth. It’s not all fluffy teddy bears and cute things.

How can I explain to you how I feel like the luckiest woman on earth with my little boy. He constantly makes me laugh. I love him so much I could explode some days. He is my miracle baby. I cry often for Caitlyn. Little things set me off. It’s sad that I feel like I need to shut her away now as people feel uncomfortable when I bring it up.

I also feel like now I have baby Michael people think it’s OK and I can just move on. It’s not that easy. It frustrates me how blaze people are about child birth in this country. I shudder when I hear of choices people make when giving birth as I know they do so without being fully informed. This country doesn’t like to confront the tough issues. It’s all about positively informing parents and not wanting to cause anxiety but who cares about that if you could make a decision that saves your babies life.

I can look back on Caitlyn and feel happy that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to save her. If I’d had her in Taupo closer to home, she would have died within the first hour and I never would have forgiven myself for not going to Rotorua Hospital. There is no single reason for her death. She may have held her cord as she was birthed, or had her cord compressed against my pelvis as she was birthed. Who knows. What does it matter now anyway.

I am very grateful to have had Cailtyn, despite the outcome. She taught me a completely different perspective of the world. I was at the cemetery one day and saw Caitlyn’s neighbors mother. She had her wee girl for a week. I thought how lucky was she to have a week! She would have held her. I only had 8 hours! The most intimate I got to exploring her was via the autopsy report. But then I thought about the women who miscarry, or have still borne babies. I had 8 hours, I got to see Caitlyn breathe and fight, I got to carry her to term (for all those women who can’t conceive)…so I am grateful for what I had and just hang on to those memories.

I am not afraid of going back a 3rd time. I want to add to my family. Babies a miracles. I am constantly amazed by my little man. Why would I not want to give it another go.



I am so honored that Nicola has shared this story for my website.  Its taken me a while to load this story up, because every time I read it tears pour down my face.

I want to send my love to Nicola & Shane, and Cailtyn and Michael.