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tough and Margot was starting to feel
Margot was well aware that her second
little girl would probably be born
prematurely. Being so large, the foetus
was close to full term size very early.
Margot’s hope was that she wouldn’t
go into labour until at least 30 weeks,
because the baby’s chance of survival
was very much improved from then on.
At 31 weeks Margot was admitted to
hospital so that staff could monitor
her various complications. Rory and
Catriona visited everyday.
Four days after she arrived at the
hospital Margot had some indication
that labour was imminent. At 6.30
the next morning she called me to
announce that the baby’s foot had made
a surprise appearance in the middle of
the night and she had an emergency
caesarean section. At 4.56am the baby
Five really good days followed. Margot
felt her gloom lifting as her pregnancy
complications disappeared and the
baby seemed to be starting to thrive.
Two year old Rory practised saying the
new baby’s name, Paul and his partner
visited and took lots of video footage
and Margot spent a lot of time smiling
with relief and happiness for her
Confined to the neonatal intensive care
unit, Nell – as the baby was later named
– needed a concentrated sugar drip and
later, intravenous antibiotics. Although
she was as big as many full term babies,
at 32 weeks Nell’s digestive system had
not yet fully developed. She also had a
distended belly, asymmetrical legs and
hypoglycaemia – primary symptoms of
Two weeks after her birth Nell was
airlifted to Westmead Children’s
Hospital. Her symptoms had not
improved and she needed specialist care
to control the hypoglycaemia and the
kidney failure that had resulted from
Margot had not imagined that she
would ever feel as depressed as during
the late stages of her pregnancy.
But as Nell’s condition continued to
deteriorate, Margot often told me that
she had just had the worst day of her
life. This time was tortured as she was
filled with hope one moment and then
hopelessly anxious the next.
On Monday, five days after Nell was
delivered to Westmead in a helicopter,
a doctor told Margot that Nell was not
going to live. Nell died that day with
Margot holding her. Rory, her parents
and her sister were by her side.
This time in Margot’s life has been
unimaginably sad. Her family and
friends have all been deeply affected.
Paul has also experienced a great deal
of grief, and I imagine this grief will
be very difficult to resolve. When
he agreed to help Margot to become
pregnant, death was not part of the plan.
Margot and Paul were not intimate
friends before Nell was born and yet
they found themselves in an intensely
Two months later and Margot has some
good days, some bad. We talk about
Nell a lot, the details of her illness, the
beauty of the funeral, the impact that
it has had on everyone involved. But
despite the immeasurable pain, Margot
has not fallen into total despair. She is
taking some time off work to recover
and will consider her future plans when
the time is right.
Margot’s courage and strength have
been an inspiration. Rory is blessed to
have her for a mother. And Nell was
If you are a lesbian who has
experienced the death of a baby call
Sids & Kids NSW
(02) 9818 8400.
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