About Finley John Scott
This piece of writing tells Finley’s story (well part of it, as the rest is still unfolding after his passing). It also is an extract from the book I have written After Finley.
When I started writing I had no idea where it would lead. I originally started writing this to help myself, to get the jumbled mess of thoughts out of my head so that I could rest. After a little while I read it back and realised that there is a lot of useful information contained within the text; information that may be useful for other parents and to professionals caring for those parents. The idea of After Finley … the story of a love a zillion times bigger than the sky was born.
The actual story begins five days after Finley was born, when I am at home having left my son alone in the hospital. It continues as a record of those early difficult days and all the tasks that they contained. It was very difficult deciding how and when to end. Although this is the story of the short time since Finley was born, it is also the story of the start of the rest of our lives.
Before you read about the time after we get home, I wanted to tell you about our time with Finley. In order to tell you about Finley I need to take you back to a time before his conception.
In March 2008 I had a miscarriage. This was our first baby, we had planned it and been trying for a few months. I found I was pregnant at the same time as my friend April. Unfortunately less than a week after I found out I was pregnant I began to bleed. I went to the hospital and then the roller coaster started. I was told I had my dates wrong and that the scan just showed an egg sac. They took a blood test and asked me to come back for a further test to check the hormone levels. When those results came back they said that they had not doubled as they should, so they would like to test again and to test for another hormone. If the levels of this hormone were high enough the pregnancy would be viable. It turned out that the hormone levels were not high enough to support a pregnancy and we lost our first baby. It took almost a week for the miscarriage to happen during which time I worked as if nothing was wrong. I felt let down by the professionals, I was treated like it was just a medical incident that had occurred. I felt like nobody thought of this as a baby, except me.
I had a few weeks rest then tried to get on with my life. I remember very clearly a dream I had. I saw a little baby girl lying on the fern bed, the sunlight catching her skin and sparkling. She was holding her feet with her hands in that cute way only babies can do, and gurgling and giggling to herself. At that time I knew it was the baby I had lost, and was able to say thank you to her and goodbye.
I thought I had got over that quite well, until the time got closer to the due date. My friend April had her baby on the day that mine would have been due. I was so happy for her; she had a beautiful baby boy. I was devastated for us. That is the first time I think that I realised how important it had become to me to be a Mum. April was fantastic, we visited her in hospital and when I arrived she handed Mackinley to me, and went out of the room. I sat there and hugged her baby and cried and cried. When we left that hospital I said to Baz I wanted to stop trying for a baby. I could not handle the heart ache every month. Two weeks later I discovered I was pregnant.
Around this time I happened to have been to see a psychic. During the meeting she mentioned a spirit who she said was behind me and to my left. She said she sensed it was a wise, calm spirit. I had no idea who it could be so put it to the back of my mind.
I was delighted to discover I was pregnant. I thought that after I had got past 12 weeks everything would be ok, I never even considered the possibility that something could happen later on in the pregnancy. Well, I just assumed that getting pregnant and carrying a healthy baby would be easy, it’s the most natural thing in the world isn’t it? Something happened to me during the early part of my pregnancy – I found a sense of peace.
Gina gave me a book called The Gentle Birth Method. I read this and found something that helped me to nurture myself and my baby. I followed the advice contained in the book including listening to birth preparation relaxation exercises daily, frequent walking and swimming, taking care over our diet. The thing that I most enjoyed was the pampering – finally someone giving me permission to pamper myself. I had regular reiki and reflexology treatments. The baby (we did not know it was a boy until Finley was born) seemed to enjoy the reiki, moving in a particular way during the session under the therapists hands. The baby would always wake up and move around, but in a very gentle peaceful way. I began to notice that when we connected, my mind to the baby’s soul, in this way I could feel the baby behind me and to the left of me. I felt the baby to be a very wise, old soul. The baby was not the new soul that I had expected.
The baby got into the correct position, but nothing else happened. My due date came and went and there were still no signs. I was booked in for an induction. I was so disappointed to think that I had come that far but would now have to have a medicalised birth. I so desperately wanted a water birth, with just a tens machine as pain relief in the early stages of labour. I wanted the birth to be peaceful. I began in earnest trying everything to move this baby along. We must have had curry 10 times in a week. I had an acupuncture treatment that seemed to start some contractions, so I carried on using the acupressure points and taking the homeopathic remedies.
Three days before I was scheduled to have the induction I thought my waters had broken. I phoned the hospital and they suggested I came in to be checked. I was so relaxed that I asked to watch Casualty first. We got to hospital at 10pm Saturday night. When we arrived at the hospital the midwife told us there was meconium in the waters. They wanted to put me on a monitor. I was worried at this point and asked about my water birth. I was told I would not be able to have my water birth, and was so upset I cried and told them I was going home. They checked the heartbeat on the monitor and the baby had a strong heart beat, so I was asked to stay in over night, and settled on to the ward. Baz was sent home as I was not in established labour. The midwife did an internal to start things off. She told me my cervix had not changed; I was still in early labour. Although I was having contractions I could not feel them.
All seemed well and I settled down to try to relax as much as I could, given that I had not wanted to be in hospital. I listened to my relaxation CD over and over again, and continued using the homeopathic remedies and pushing on the acupressure points. Then at 4am they checked the monitor and I told the midwife that the numbers that indicated the baby’s heart beat kept dropping. I got worried because the meconium had got thicker as well. After keeping an eye on the monitor for a while the midwife got someone else to have a look. The baby had gone into distress. A doctor came and carried out an ultra sound and found the heart beat was too slow so they decided to do an emergency caesarean section, at 5.55am. I don’t remember much from this point on, there was still nothing in the attitude of the staff to suggest that anything was wrong. I think I had phoned and asked Baz to come in.
I was taken into the operating theatre. I remember a horrible smelling mask over my face and someone pushing down on my throat. I fell asleep with tears rolling down my cheeks. I think I knew my baby had gone.
Looking back I never could imagine leaving the hospital with a baby, or bringing a baby home. I could visualise the birth, but had not visualised past that point. Maybe I was just never meant to bring my baby home. It’s very easy to over analyse these things with the benefit of hindsight, all too easy to blame myself.
Our little boy Finley was born at 6.13am on 2nd August 2009. He was born with no heart beat. In the 18 minutes it had taken to decide to operate, to put me to sleep and to carry out the operation my baby had been born. My baby was born and he did not wake up.
I was told, but I don’t think I took it in. I think I remember screaming “no”. We have photographs of that first morning, but I don’t really have many memories. I know Mum gave me Finley to hold, but I must have fallen asleep again. We have photographs of Mum holding him, and Heather and Andy holding him. I know that April and Paul visited – I remember she brought proper tissues with her. I think my brother and Stacey visited, but we don’t have any photos of them.
Baz got to the hospital too late to see his son born. I cannot imagine how he felt to have rushed to get there and arrive to hear that news. He did so well. He phoned everyone that morning. I have no idea how he managed to do that, or what he told people. I am so grateful he could do that. We have beautiful videos of Baz giving Finley his first bath and getting him dressed. He looks like such a natural father. There is a really lovely clip of Baz inspecting his ears and discovering he has one ear bigger than the other – just like his Daddy.
Everyone left me alone to rest that afternoon. I don’t really remember much. I had morphine. Ali and Kev visited because I had called them. I think Ali may have held Finley. I don’t remember. I made a couple of phone calls, but have no idea what I said. What is there to say, how on earth do you tell people you have a beautiful baby boy who is forever sleeping?
I am so very grateful that somehow we managed to spend almost three days in hospital with Finley. As I have mentioned I don’t remember the first day at all. I think Baz had someone with him babysitting him to make sure he was ok, I am glad someone remembered him. At sometime on the Sunday I was moved into the bereavement room. It is a room called the Rowan Suite, which is on the labour ward but in a short corridor away from the main ward. Any mother who loses a baby before, during or shortly after birth will be cared for in this room, even very tiny babies from 16 weeks gestation will be looked after in this room. It is a small room, that is made to look more homely than a hospital room. It has a Divan bed, with a quilt, rather than sheets and blankets. There are candles and a television. There is a small en suite bathroom in there.
I think I held Finley on the Sunday evening, and remember ringing the bell for the nurse to put him in his cot to sleep. I don’t think that at that point it actually felt real at all. I think some part of me knew he was dead, but another part of me was not going to let that be a reality. He slept in his cot at the end of my bed. I don’t really remember when they swapped him to go in the cot, as there are photos of him being in a moses basket. I remember being pleased that he had a cot like everyone else did.
Monday was a day of pain. It was the day the morphine was stopped and I was informed that I would have to go home. It’s the only time I remember anyone saying we would have to go home. I did not want to leave hospital. Although no-one had mentioned it I knew that when we left hospital we would not be taking Finley with us. I tried to have a shower after they removed the morphine wires. I remember being in tears in the bathroom, standing on one leg trying to get into the bath to have a shower. No-one had told me that when I stood up I would bleed heavily I was so upset when this happened. And because of the stitches I could not even reach the floor to clear up. I was sobbing my heart out and remember shouting at the midwife that day. It seemed so unfair to be in physical pain. I shouted at a midwife “if I had a f***ing baby to look after I would not want the painkillers but I don’t”. She gently explained to me that the emotional pain was making the physical pain worse, but did eventually get me some more medication.
Lorna and Sharon visited. Sharon held Finley which meant the world to me. It has been so important to me that my friends have met my little boy, it validates his life somehow. If people have met him then he is real and he did exist. Lorna brought Finley a little rabbit. I had been so upset that nobody had brought him any presents. All I had been given was cards and flowers. I feel so ungrateful now, but at the time I wanted Finley to have his presents. I’m not sure if it was a need to celebrate his birth or if it was more simply that I could believe he was just sleeping in his cot if people brought him gifts.
Baz’s Dad and his girlfriend Kathy visited as well. Kathy held Finley which I think helped her a lot, even though it must have been difficult. She had experienced another still birth in the family last year, so this must have brought back some terrible memories. None of us expected this to happen. I think the midwife got a little bit cross about all the visitors – she told me I needed to rest. I remember being very angry, and saying I would have lots of time to rest, after all I had no baby to look after.
By this point I had discovered that I loved cuddling Finley and would not let him go. This night Baz stayed in the little room with us. We spent one precious night together as a family.
On Tuesday I made Baz go home to collect some things. I think by this point he might have been a bit fed up. I had made him take almost one hundred photographs. Baz went home and collected some outfits for Finley. Outfits that we had brought especially for him. Baz also brought in a Winnie-the-Pooh teddy bear. We had a fashion show, and took the photos of Finley wearing all the outfits. I have the teddy bear now at home, it is in his cot and is so precious because he had it with him in hospital and carried it to the post mortem with him.
Baz did not stay with us that night, he needed to get some sleep. At some point a decision was made that we would go home the next day. I don’t know how, or who made this decision. Keiley, the bereavement midwife, spent a long time with me that night as I could not sleep. She said to me that I needed to think about what I wanted my last memory of Finley to be. I am so grateful to her for taking the time to prepare me for this. I realised we only had this very short, very special time with Finley to make our memories. I spent all that night holding Finley, cuddled up to him, sleeping with my baby in my arms. We took some photos. They are the saddest photos as you can see my tears. Even so, that is such a precious memory. There is nothing more natural than a Mum cradling her baby as he sleeps.
At some point during the night I think Finley’s soul left. At that time I did not understand what I was feeling, with hindsight and all I have learnt I know that there was a point that night that Finley left his body. Up until that point I had remained connected to Finley. It was a different focus to our connection when he was in my tummy. Then it felt as though we connected outside of me, behind me and to the left. When we were in hospital the focus of our connection became this tiny, vulnerable little body in my arms, or his cot. On the morning of the last day I felt sure that he was not there any more. Perhaps it was me coming to the realisation that our baby was gone. He was still in the room, I still felt the love and peace that I know is him, but he was not in his body anymore. I cannot explain this any further, nor do I ask you to believe. I simply state the truth as I experienced it. I was sure that I connected with his soul again, I wrote about that earlier in this book. I connected with him the night we brought him home.
The day we left was a hugely emotional day, although I think in some ways we were numb to it and just going through the motions. I had decided that I wanted my last memory of Finley to be me bathing, dressing and reading him a story before we left him in that cosy room with a midwife so he would not be alone. We have special videos of these moments. I have to say they are probably the most touching videos I have ever seen. A Mum caring for her baby, changing the nappy, washing him and getting the poppers all done up wrong; then cuddling him as she reads him a bedtime story, wraps him up in a blanket and lays him in his cot to sleep. The most natural thing in the world – until you realise the baby’s lips are black and he is floppy. You realise that this baby will not wake up the next morning. His parents will never feel his breath on their cheeks, they will never grumble as they hear him cry at 3am, they will never see what colour his eyes are, or know the sound of his cry. His parents will forever remember the feeling walking down that corridor, where the sounds of other babies crying can be heard, knowing they are walking away from their baby.