Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Warning: This post may cause distress in some readers.
My name is Sheridan, and I am a married mother of 4 beautiful children. Sonny, our angel baby who would have been 5 this year, and our three rainbows- Odin 4, Zyla 2.5 and Zeth 8months. When Ava’s Things invited me to tell our story about Sonny, I was absolutely honoured as I believe this special little boy’s story deserves to be heard.
Garon and I started dating in September 2015, 5 short months later in February 2016 we fell pregnant. We were scared, nervous, and yet excited to start on this crazy adventure together. We were over the moon to be starting our own family and couldn’t wait for the joy that this little life would bring. However, the universe decided it had other plans.
From as early as 6 weeks pregnant I had constant bleeding. Sometimes it would be heavy which resulted in many ultrasounds and each time our little bub had a stronger heartbeat, looked healthy and happy. At our 12 weeks scan they finally found the source of the bleeds, a Subchoroionic Haematoma. This is a common blood clot that can occur during pregnancy were an abnormal accumulation of blood forms between the placenta and uterus. We were told it’s nothing to worry about and it should either bleed out or be reabsorbed by my body. However, it does come with the low risk of ending in miscarriage or stillbirth.
We found out at 17 weeks that we were having a beautiful baby BOY!! At just 18 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling off and went to the bathroom. As I went to sit on the toilet, I felt a strange popping sensation and a gush of pinkish fluid spilled over my bathroom floor. I immediately rang my mother in a state of panic and shock, unsure of what was happening. Garon and I met my mum at Port Macquarie Hospital. Here I was told, after showing the doctor the photo of the puddle of fluid on the floor, that there was no way it could have been my waters as I would be in more pain if that was the case. I was discharged and sent to my ultrasound that was booked for later that day. It was here that we found out there was extremely low fluid around bub and we were told to go straight back to the hospital. It was confirmed that my waters had ruptured. It was believed that the bleeding, caused by the haematoma, had weakened the membranes of the amniotic sac causing the premature rupture of membranes (PROM).
The next few weeks consisted of being monitored very closely, not leaving the hospital, staying in bed, regular scans, and lots of strong antibiotics to avoid contracting a nasty bacterial infection called Chorioaminioitis which could potentially lead to death in serious cases. Our goal was to get this pregnancy to viability at 24 weeks which meant that if I was to go into labour anytime from 24 weeks on- they would do everything possible to save him. The weeks passed by slowly, but every extra week was a week closer to viability and every week brought more hope for a positive outcome. One of the Obstetricians delivered some devastating news that even if our baby was to make it to 24 weeks that his lungs would not be strong enough for him to survive outside the womb due to the lack of fluid around our baby which is needed for the lungs to develop and grow. This news absolutely crushed me- yet somehow, I was not giving up. I was determined to stay strong and positive for our little man who was proving every day to be a fighter. At 22 weeks, after another large gush of fluid, I was flown to John Hunter Hospital where I would be spending the remainder of my pregnancy.
After 2 weeks at John Hunter on the 2nd of August 2016, I contracted the dreaded infection, Chorioaminioitis. Around 5pm that afternoon I started to get bad headaches and spiked a fever. I began getting extreme bad back pains that would come and go and would coincide with bad period pains around the front. I was in labour, at 24 weeks and 3 days. Due to having the infection it was decided our bub needed to be taken out as soon as possible. He was laying transverse across my uterus which meant I had to have a classical c-section, where instead of making a small cut across the bottom of the uterus they had to make a large cut going down. Sonny James Murray was born 2nd of August 2016, at 9.23pm, weighing a tiny 670grams. He was taken away straight after Garon cut the cord to the NICU. I didn’t even get to see his face, just this tiny body wrapped in plastic. I was a mess. I was frightened of what the next few hours would bring. I was overwhelmed that Sonny was finally here, but also relieved that he was stable at that moment.
At 6am the next morning (3rd of August) one of the NICU doctors woke me up and told me that Sonny had taken a turn for the worse overnight and wasn’t expected to make it through the day. I was shocked. I was broken. I still hadn’t even laid eyes on my own child at this point. They had organised for my bed to be taken up to NICU asap so that I could see him and be with him. We decided to have him baptised that day and by some form of a miracle, after the baptism Sonny’s stats rose. He stabilised again and was needing less oxygen. The doctors could not believe what they just saw. Our baby was ok. The relief I felt was out of this world! For the next week Sonny kept making good progress. He opened his eyes; his oxygen was turned down more and more each day. He was responding to Garon and I! He was even starting to show off his stubborn and cheeky personality. For the first time I thought everything was going to be ok. I knew our journey wasn’t going to be easy but at this moment I could see our little fighter eventually coming home with us.
When Sonny was just 10 days old, we got pulled into a private meeting with the doctors. I knew straight away that what we were about to be told was not good news. I didn’t realise just how bad it would be. They had discovered a bleed on Sonny’s brain as well as abnormalities. His lungs had collapsed and were deteriorating. He was also at maximum life support and still not showing any signs of improvement. They told us that even with him on maximum life support, he only had a few days to live. It was then that they explained that we could either continue with him on the life support, knowing full well that he was suffering and in pain- allowing him to pass on the machines. Or we could finally hold our baby in our arms for the first time since he was born while they take him off life support and have him pass away peacefully, surrounded by nothing but love in our arms.
Garon and I were absolutely shattered. As new parents we never once imagined being put in this position. No matter what decision we made it was going to end in heartbreak. How do you as a parent even make a decision like that? How do you look at that tiny little fighter laying there, whose life had just begun, and decide how and when it is going to end? This little life that in such a short time had completely captured, not only our hearts, but the hearts of every single person that met him and cared for him. Garon and I went away from that meeting and spoke about what we felt was the best for Sonny. As much as we wanted to be selfish and keep him with us for as long as possible neither of us could cope. Knowing that he was in pain and his time with us was coming to an end. He was showing us he was ready to go, and we needed to listen. We went back the next day and informed the doctors of our choice. We had decided to finally have the chance to hold our baby, to have him feel our warmth and to hear our heartbeats. To allow him to feel our love as we nursed him while he grew his Angel wings.
On Monday the 15th of August, at 13 days old, we arranged for our immediate families to come and say their goodbyes to him before we had our final moments with Sonny. Both Garon, I, our doctor and our nurse took Sonny down to the fairy garden as we wanted him to be able to experience fresh air and sunshine before he passed. It was there that his final breathing tube was removed, and he was placed in our arms. I cannot even begin to describe all the emotions I was feeling at that moment. My heart was completely shattered, yet so full of love at the same time. I was in complete admiration of our Sonny boy and the fight he put up since day dot. He was determined to meet us, and he did just that. We walked around with him nursed in our arms while he was still beathing and his heart was still beating. We spoke to him and made sure he knew just how loved he was and that we would never forget him. We promised him that it was ok for him to go, he no longer had to suffer and could finally rest in peace. After an hour or so we decided to go back up to the NICU. Before we entered the lift with Sonny nestled in my arms, the doctor checked his heart, it was still beating but was very slow and weak. As we went to walk into the room where all our family members were waiting, the doctor had another listen. She looked at me with nothing but sadness in her eyes and said the words I was dreading to hear… “he has gone, I’m so sorry”. I was in utter disbelief that in such a short elevator trip, our Sonny had passed away. I completely broke down, all the while still cradling our precious boy in my arms. I opened the door to our families and broke the news. The rest of that day was a complete blur, just writing this is bringing back that pain I felt. It was like my heart was ripped from my body. How can life be so cruel?! So many what ifs, and questions flooded my head. How was I meant to face the next day? let alone the rest of my life… never laying eyes on my sweet boys beautiful face again, or holding him in my arms, never getting to see him grow up. I was broken. Completely and utterly broken.
Garon and I found comfort in each other. We were the only ones who knew the exact pain one another was feeling. Our hearts were broken, yet our relationship grew stronger.
My mental health spiralled and I became severely depressed. I couldn’t sleep as the first image that came to me was that of Sonny taking his final breath. For a good month or so I refused any help. I barely left my bed and I found comfort in junk food. I locked myself away and stopped seeing friends. I gained 20kgs. Everything would trigger me. I struggled returning to work in childcare, to the point I would have a panic attack and break down in the car on the way there. One morning I woke up and knew I had to do something. I knew Sonny wouldn’t want me to be living this way, he would want me to be the best me I could be. So I went to my doctor, got prescribed antidepressants that also helped me sleep, and I started seeing a therapist weekly.
I was becoming myself again. And I did it all for Sonny. I needed him to be proud of me, to see that he had a strong mama. I was able to start back at work in childcare and make it through the day without having a breakdown. I was getting out of bed and started spending time with friends again. Don’t get me wrong, I was still breaking and missing Sonny but I was also starting to see the joy in life and my break downs weren’t happening as often.
6 months after Sonny passed, we fell pregnant. We were filled with a mix of emotions. Fear, that what happened with Sonny was going to happen again. Excitement and joy that we were expecting another baby. Hope, that we would bring this rainbow into the world safely. I stopped taking my antidepressants when I found out we were expecting, but I am now taking them again.
I’m proud to say that we have since welcomed our first rainbow, a healthy baby boy, Odin James Murray on the 9th of October 2017, at 37 weeks and weighing 3.13kgs. 18 months later, along came our second rainbow. This time a beautiful baby girl Zyla Mae Murray on the 9th of April 2019, at 34+5 weeks and weighing 2.79kgs. Then 2 years after Zyla we welcomed our final addition to our family. Zeth James Murray on the 1st of April 2021, at 37+1 weeks and weighing 3.289kgs. All our rainbows are healthy, cheeky, beautiful kids who bring nothing but love and joy to our lives. They will grow up knowing all about their big brother, we will share this story with them when they are old enough to understand. We all visit Sonny at his final resting place at least once a month, Odin has started to show interest in Sonny’s plaque. He will kiss it and say, “love you, Sonny”. It breaks my heart that they will never get to play together, but I find comfort in knowing that Sonny is always with us.
I miss Sonny every single day. Not a day passes were I don’t think of him and what kind of child he would have been, who he would look like and if he would still be that same stubborn and cheeky baby, we all love. I have moments were I have a good cry about him. Every day I am reminded that he isn’t here. The pain of losing him is still very much there, but I have learnt to cope with it better. I see a therapist once a month now, and that alone is working for me.
This journey was never going to be easy. We faced many obstacles. Had highs and lows. We loved and we lost the most amazing little boy I ever laid my eyes on. Yet somehow I came out of it stronger, and a better version of myself. I have our beautiful Sonny to thank for that.
Fly high little man 💙
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