A Tauranga mum, who asked not to be identified, says she wishes there had been different protocols to allow her family to meet and grieve the loss of one of their own.

"I love to talk about her," she says, when I thank her for taking the time to do it.

In the space of the lockdown, this mum has welcomed a baby into the world only to see the life taken out of her again before the pandemic was over.

She had just short of two days with her baby girl and she says she will forever feel blessed to have had that time with her, rather than no time at all.


Still, she wishes some things had been different.

Her "one in a million baby" was born in the early hours of April 5, with New Zealand deep in level 4 lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She was born at home, a decision the parents made together but that they feel was decided for them.

After all, lockdown rules meant that, had they gone to hospital, the dad would have been separated from the baby pretty soon after the birth.

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They knew they would have little time with her - if any at all - and they weren't about to cut it any shorter than it needed to be. In a joint decision with their midwife, they welcomed their baby at home, in their bubble.

It was an easy labour and delivery for the mum. The worst was yet to come.

In a scan at 23 weeks gestation, they had found out about their girl's rare heart condition.

She had restrictive cardiomyopathy, a rare condition in babies, in which the walls of the heart are rigid and don't allow for it to stretch and fill up with blood properly.


The prognosis was grim and, as the world prepared for the pandemic to hit, this family prepared for their own personal tragedy.

They knew the baby was either going to arrive stillborn or alive but with very low chances of surviving past a few hours.

Less than two days after they first met her, she left, peacefully, back at home, in the evening of April 6.

"We knew," the grieving mum tells. "But it's still difficult.

"We prayed that we would get time with her. My greatest fear was that we wouldn't see her alive."

While her greatest fear didn't come to pass, a parent's second worst fear did happen: last weekend, they buried their own child.


"For the first 24 hours, she was perfect. She was just like any normal baby. We weren't meant to get that. Even the paediatrician team in the hospital were quite surprised," the mum recalls.

Knowing they were about to face a tragedy, the mum-to-be brought her own mum into her bubble before lockdown, for extra support. Still, her other children, now older, didn't get to join. A whole family deprived of meeting their baby, a lifetime of trauma to work through.

After the first 24 hours, her breathing problems began. They took her to hospital where they knew they would be given the bad news.

"The midwife came over and we decided to go to hospital. It was evident that she wasn't doing very well. Her oxygen was at 70 per cent. What we had talked about was starting to happen."

Less than 48 hours after entering the world, her baby girl died in her arms.

"She was on my chest, skin on skin. My mum was next to her, singing her a lullaby."


She had medication to help her stay comfortable. Once she took her final breath, the parents, unable to grieve with their extended family, had to make some hard decisions due to the strict rules around notifying the funeral director.

"We had to notify the funeral director but we could keep her at home for three days until we did that," the mum said.

"It was the right decision to make. We had time to have our own little tangihanga at home. We had a little service by Zoom. Then we had to make the heartbreaking decision to have her cared for by the funeral home."

Despite knowing everyone did the best they could in the circumstances, the grieving mum can't help but wish the circumstances had been different so she could have, at least, taken her baby out of the region to meet extended family.

"The most heartbreaking thing was that we didn't get time with our family. She didn't get to meet her siblings. Nobody got to meet her. It was just us in her little bubble. It was quite heartbreaking and hard for everyone."

The mum, who says she absolutely agrees with the lockdown and respects the Government's decisions and the timing of those decisions, says she wishes the protocols for funerals had been different.


"I'm very supportive of the lockdown but I think because we did it early enough and we had a grasp on what we were doing and could see what happened overseas, it could have been different. The loss of loved ones could have been managed better. I don't know what the alternatives are but there could have been other protocols put in place.

"We were denied our tikanga," she says.

"We lost our cultural practices. Our tangihanga and what we normally would have to grieve, which is being around our family, especially at the time of passing. Sure we had Zoom and FaceTime but it's not the same," she says.

Knowing that Covid-19 test results can now be delivered within a few days, the mum wishes there had been an option to test everyone and then allow them to come together for a burial once the results had come through negative.

"We were refused entry to our marae. We had to reinvent a service at the actual burial site. It was all very difficult and quite stressful," she recalls.

The family is holding on to one small silver lining of lockdown: the fact that they didn't have distractions from the outside world or pressure to return to work and both mum and dad got to take time to grieve their loss together.


"The hospital team were amazing and so were the people at the funeral home - just amazing. The funeral home called us every couple of days to check on us."

Their baby was buried last weekend.

Their pain will stay for a lifetime.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website