I claimed to be a bit of a skeptic, not "into" extra sensory, other-worldly techniques or beliefs or practices. It was all garbage, unable to be proved or disproved, so therefore the stuff of crazy people's imaginations. I believed that others could believe what they wanted, but they weren't going to "suck me in". That was until I sensed her for the first time. I was completely unnerved that everywhere I went, I felt the "presence" of "someone". I knew it was a female. And I was awed.... and a little nervous. I thought at first I was going crazy. Then I tentatively started to open up about it - to Steve, to my step mother, to my Dad. For the most part, I thought these people were patting me on the hand a bit and not truly understanding what I was trying to explain - how DO you explain that you're hearing from someone...."but they don't really say anything....they're just....there"? It was around this time I realised - there is something else we don't see. I had an awakening. But I didn't know what to do with it, so I thought I'd do nothing! However, she had other plans for the both of us.
It started off in November 2002 as an awareness that Ellanor was with me, wherever I went. After a while, it became rather novel for me - every so often, I would ask in my thoughts, "Are you still there?" The reply was always a simple yet very determined "Yes" or an affirmative feeling. Hmmmm. It certainly was curious. I had had four miscarriages before this. And I was far too nervous to trust that this being was a future child of ours. I grew very attached to having her around and I really felt I "knew" her. The feeling of having a presence around me who I cannot see yet definitely sense, to me, feels like when I know Steve is at the other end of the house, for instance. I know he's there, though I can't see or touch him. And I know what he's like and who he is because... I've met him and, well, I just do! And that is how I "met" Ellanor, long before she was born.
This communication of sorts continued until around March of the following year, roughly the same time I had my very vivid short dream about the grotto. I remember being at work one day, trying to concentrate on a busy accounts receivable position. I couldn't really focus. And then I realised: this "person", this pushy female, had become very incessant! There was nothing said, in particular, just a constant "hanging around" that I couldn't think past. I contacted the fantastic etheric healers at Peace Space, with whom I had come to trust and learn from a great deal, and was able to put into my thought pattern a mandala to hone my concentration to the physical tasks at hand.
I realise at this point (uh, if not well before!) I sound a bit nutty to many people who so far have not experienced anything quite like this. And to be honest, I never really "get" the Mandala or colour significance thing, even to this day.... all I know is, through the power of my own visualisation (just trusting that what is being suggested to me will benefit or relieve the situation), I have managed to stave off two severe wisdom tooth infections without the use of pain killers or antibiotics - to name just one example of this type of healing. It absolutely astounds me, particularly being the ex-skeptic that I am, but hey, it saves the pain and money of having my tooth extracted and it's working for me for now! So I do trust that these images and colour patterns do work - I don't have to ponder too much on the "how" part, as the proof is in the doing for me. I trust that if I am open and completely respectful of the process, it will cause change in some way, however small.
Anyway, a couple of months after this episode at work, on June 21st, I had a very profound dream. I dreamed of our daughter. She looked the image of me as a baby of around 12 months of age - sitting up in a cot and amusing herself happily with toys. The cot was at the top of a flight of stairs and surrounding it and the baby girl were myself, Steve and my sister. Lining the staircase were many of my relatives, some of whom are no longer living, but there was a sense of there being a lot of people there, as if we were at some sort of large family gathering. I could tell that this little girl knew exactly who I was, but for me the feeling was that I was laying eyes on her for the very first time.
How utterly astounded I was, then, when I flicked back through my journal and found this entry (I had forced myself to start writing a journal some months back, but this had been the one and only dream I had recorded) when I was several months pregnant with Ella. Counting back, I discovered she was conceived within days of this dream.
After I became pregnant in late June 2003, I remained very doubtful that this pregnancy was going to end up any differently to the ones previous. I remember literally willing this little baby to simply be gone or to have perished in between scans... and every single time there she was. I knew, of course, that this was a girl long before we arrived at the 20 week scan. This was Ellanor and she was definitely on her way, despite my negativity (thank heavens!).
I had a very "eventful" pregnancy with heavy bleeding for weeks in the first trimester - possibly due to a poorly attached placenta - but even this did not stop her. I remember laying on the bed one evening with Steve, both of us crying, saying we couldn't do this again - I thought I had lost her at six, seven and eight weeks and I think my obstetrician was also convinced we had lost this pregnancy when I reported very heavy flow. After two days of numbness over the situation and still nauseated, I went for a scan.... which showed a very contented little textbook-looking 8 week old foetus, complete with what looked suspiciously to me like white boxing gloves where her hands were in fists! Well... time would tell, this girl was certainly a fighter of sorts.
I continued to "hear" Ellanor on and off right through my pregnancy. I couldn't quite imagine meeting her. It was as if the baby growing in my belly was not the same "person" I had been hearing and sensing all these months and I never did quite get used to associating the two together. Possibly due to the fact that we had endured four miscarriages and then such trouble in the first months of my pregnancy with Ella, I was also playing down a sense of foreboding. Despite being the calmest I had ever been in my entire life, I was unnerved that I could not "see" myself bringing a baby home, couldn't imagine settling a baby to sleep in the nursery we had now completed. And when my waters broke, over ten weeks sooner than they should, I was perfectly calm and stayed in touch with Ella throughout the entire miraculous event.
After being checked over by my obstetrician and settled in by the midwife at the hospital, mild contractions were beginning and I was looking at the clock - at 11.00pm, Monday 12th January, I remember saying out loud to Ella, "You're getting your dates mixed up. You don't want to be born on the 13th! But if you want to come now, you come now."
And come she did. Nine hours later.
They whisked her away to the Neonatal ICU and for three hours, we were separated. I was in shock, but exhilarated. For the first week, I was blissfully unaware of her heart condition, of her impending fight for life. All I knew was, I had a little baby and I could see her and feel her and smell her. Finally she had come, after so many years of struggle.
I was discharged from the hospital after five days, and that was mighty hard. To leave my baby in a strange place, albeit a safe place, with any number of new nurses - people I have never met - in charge of my tiny helpless bub, is a feeling I cannot really describe properly. I was torn, knowing there was no way I could take care of her at this early stage, yet feeling so inadequate that I didn't know how to keep her alive! I struggled with that a lot in the first days.
I also realised, somewhat alarmingly, that Ellanor was still "in my head" when I came home. When I thought about her or tried to concentrate on her, she was right there with me. And that was very unsettling. I felt it was not a good thing that, now she was born, her "essence" was clearly not surrounding her but still hanging around me.
Now, my husband Steve is no wishy-washy, gullible person. He is the skeptic's skeptic, taking the route of science and logic in all things, including what we cannot see - everything has a reasonable, logical explanation to Steve. He takes everything I share with him (about "other worldly things", as we call them) with a grain of salt. So imagine my surprise when, on Friday night two weeks after Ella was born, we sat holding her and she was fairly listless and tired, her eyes closed. We left her after an hours-long visit and told her tenderly that we would be back as early as we could the next morning. When we did go back, it was to a different baby. Even Steve noticed the marked change in her. She was responsive and moving and interacting with us as we spoke to her. She kept her eyes open, really exploring our faces, for what seemed like an eternity. It was that magical, magical moment when we all met each other as a family.
In a barely audible whisper, I asked Steve, "Can you see? Can you tell she's really .... there now? It's not just me is it? She is different today, isn't she?" I was astounded. I could see now, finally, that the energy of Ellanor was now embodied in this precious little baby, Ella. And, although he couldn't logically explain it, Steve too witnessed the awakening of our girl. We have the photos to prove it!! In fact, if you look at the few photos we have of Ella on her pages, you will notice that she even looks like a different baby after about half way through her four week life. She developed her character as quickly as she changed physically. And most comforting of all, after that day, Ella no longer came home with me in my head. When I tried to connect with her, I knew she was "over there" in her isolette - it is too difficult to describe in words, but I just knew then that she was now whole; her body and spirit were finally joined together.
After that morning, Ella became even more of a treat to watch. And not just for us - it seemed we had a bit of a magnetic baby. Nurses, doctors, visitors alike told me that they couldn't explain it, she just ... "I don't know, she just draws me in." I thought they were just being nice. One of the best ways it was described, by one of the nurses, was that some babies have this - there are babies and then there are babies. I think I knew what she meant. She has certainly "been here before", as they say.
The morning the registrar called us to say Ella had developed a nasty viral infection and they were administering (yet more) drugs, Steve and I were on our way in anyway. Steve had been back at work for the past week or two and did not often plan to go in the mornings. But on this day, thankfully, he did. We arrived to see a very sick little girl. Her face was pale, so pale in fact that there was no definition between lips, cheeks, eyes... it was all just pasty and not at all good. It looked ominous.
Despite her illness, Ella still fought as they administered an anaesthetic to allow them to intubate her. I remember the nurse saying "This will make her comfortable and she won't be able to move. See?", as she flicked Ella's arm. And her arm shot up, punching out at the nurse. They had to give a second dose because she was still fighting as they tried to put her under. I'll always high-five her for that. She kept her fists up to the end.
Steve and I were assured it was okay to leave her to have a bite of lunch. We were gone for 45 minutes. When we got back, we were told they had been looking for us everywhere (the ONE day I had left the hospital during the day in the past four weeks...), that it didn't look good. An xray confirmed NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis), an inflammatory gastrointestinal disease which was found primarily in premature babies and was quite serious, especially given the complications with her heart being formed the way it was. We rounded the corner in the NICU to see the screens up around our baby's cot. Until that moment, I had thought the Head Nurse who was leading us in was being a little drastic. But my knees nearly gave way and I knew. I knew it was all over. We got to her cot and there was Ella, being given CPR with many upset doctors and nurses standing helplessly now by our side. They really did try everything they could. Steve was in fits of tears next to me, I could hear nurses sniffing back tears, even the women performing the CPR were crying. And I was stone cold. I was expressionless, trying to deflect some of the shock, I guess. Nothing could ever quite prepare you for seeing your baby in that way - which is why I now feel far removed from the concerns of other new mothers, such as "Which nappies are best? Is it ok to dress them in clashing colours? Do you think we should buy a capsule or hire one?"
At that point, I decided that I needed to get back to basics, try and block out the noise and people around us, and "talk" to Ella. I closed my eyes, one hand on her lifeless foot, and tuning out to the nurse's "One..two..three..four..five.." CPR compressions, I spoke to her. I said "Ok, so I know part of why you had to come here was to teach forgiveness. But what if I tell you I haven't got the lesson yet? Can I convince you to stay?" The feeling I received back was a big fat negative! I tried to jokingly reason with Ella: "But you can't go if I haven't learned the lesson, that would make no sense." For the first time in a long time, she answered me back with a simple but very strong, "LET GO." And so I did. I said softly, out loud as I recall, "Okay" and opened my eyes. At that very instant, her doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said apologetically, "We have to stop now." And that was it. It was all over. I will never forget it. The experience of witnessing our baby drift out of this world is the most profound thing I think I will ever go through. And I am so privileged to have been there at her side, still talking to her as she went. I knew then that she would be okay, that I would be fine, that the three of us would forever be connected - and it was all good.
In the weeks after her death, Ellanor made herself known to several astounded and embarrassed people around us. It deeply saddened me at first, that I no longer felt or "heard" her - I believed our connection was lost, as I was not hearing from her and yet others were. One of the most profound occurrences was an email received from a client who, telling me over lunch a few weeks later in tears, said she didn't know what had happened. She was happily working away then suddenly she couldn't stop thinking about Ella and before she knew it, she had had to send me an email (after which time she was able to continue working, her mind cleared). Well, that email read:
"Ella is with you through all of this. Once your mind clears a little you will reconnect with her, don't worry about that! She loves you very much and is so proud of you, you gave her a chance at life, and a chance to touch the souls of those around you, something she came onto this earth to do. She chose you to be her mum, because you are strong, warm and loving. She will be with you always."
Needless to say, this email became a bit of a mantra for me. From a client who knew little of my journey, to receive something that was so completely in tune and inline with what I had been trying to convey to those close to me, was nothing short of a "sign" to me. My client and I never spoke of the experience again - it was a true message through her, a gift for me from Ellanor, with nothing required in return. And there were other cards and words spoken in the same vein. Little snippets, sometimes so subtle I almost missed them. So I learned to listen out for them. They were messages to me from her, coming through other people who were sometimes aware (and a little surprised at what was happening, to say the least) and at other times they were completely oblivious to the message they were passing on to me. Like the card I received from the two beautiful midwives who looked after me in hospital, and when I continued to express milk during the long days over the month of Ella's life - one of the midwives wrote: "Keep talking to her Kirrily. She is listening."
I came to realise that Ellanor had stepped away from me, but not as a rejection - it was best for my recovery and grief process to not have her to lean on. In this way, the desperation I felt, not knowing where she had gone now, was replaced with a deeper respect than I had had for her to begin with. She knew that I knew I need to now travel this part on my own!
I hear from Ellanor in much different ways now. Mostly in my dreams, I receive messages. One of the most profound was in July last year - I dreamt I was on the phone to a friend who was, at that stage, a few days overdue with her first baby. In my dream conversation with her, she sounded so exhilarated (I assumed she had just given birth, but she didn't tell me she had). She simply said to me, "Ellanor was just here! She just passed right through me!" And I asked her what she meant, when had this happened? She replied, "Just now, about five minutes ago." Strangely enough, I heard from my friends that same day that their baby daughter had arrived the previous night. I cannot help but wonder whether Ellanor helped the baby come through. I am positive she was involved somehow.
So now I feel my work with Ellanor is different. I have to share her now! She has made the connection with several around me and has changed the course of people's lives, no matter how indirectly, simply by coming and going again. To honour that, I have to share her story. And not just her life story. This is a continuum, something that did not start with her birth and has not ended with her death.
I thank you for reading this. Without prejudice. Without mistrust. It happened to me and I can tell you, I wouldn't be putting this story here if I thought I didn't have to....trust me!
To understand more about Ella "beyond the physical", you might like to read the story of "Little Ella" on these pages.