I’ll never forget the moment the doctor offered her condolences. ‘I’m sorry, your baby has died’, she said. Those words felt like needles to me.
I was 31 years old and 38 weeks pregnant when I went in for my midwife appointment on Wednesday the 3rd of April, with my two-year-old daughter Sienna in tow.
Relaxed, I chatted away about my baby shower, which was to be held the following day, with my midwife Gilli — and I mentioned that I hoped the baby doesn’t make an appearance beforehand. I hopped on the bed and she took out her machine that she used to listen to the heartbeat.
I felt my mouth become dry and my heart start to race when they hurried me into a room where I lay on the bed ready for my scan.
As soon as the image of the baby came up on the screen I knew something was terribly wrong. I could see he wasn’t kicking around as he usually did. The nurse said, ‘there’s his heart,’ and then rubbed my arm and said ‘I’m so sorry’.
I asked what she meant in a moment of disbelief and despair, and she said: ‘There is no heartbeat’.
I knew something was terribly wrong… he wasn’t kicking around as he usually did. The nurse said, ‘there’s his heart,’ and then rubbed my arm and said, ‘I’m so sorry’.
I jumped off the bed so fast as they tried to wipe the gel off my stomach. I looked at Sienna who was playing on the chair next to me, hoping that she was oblivious to what had just happened to us.
While they hurried us into another room, I grabbed my phone to ring my husband Oli. All I managed to say was, ‘you have to come to the hospital, they can’t find a heart beat’.
Oli was calm and told me it was ok. But our baby was gone. A thousand emotions hit me at that point. I was in utter shock but I was also panicking.
I asked if they could just take the baby out right now and save him but they said they couldn’t. Apparently, Oli asked the same thing as soon as he walked in.
I desperately wanted to see Oli but I didn’t want to see his pain or disappointment. I just felt so utterly sad for him that the son that he was so incredibly excited about was gone.
I could barely take a breath but I was determined not to crumble in front of Sienna. I was trying to smile and talk to her while shaking at what was happening.
Oli rushed in moments later looking extremely pale and worried, and asked if they could have made a mistake.
He just sat and held me while the doctors went over our options. Oli wanted me to feel no pain whatsoever and asked if I could have a c-section, but we were advised that it would be safer for me and future births to have a natural labor so I agreed.
I had spent the previous months preparing for a natural labour with no pain relief with pre natal yoga and hypnotherapy. I knew the labor would be a completely different experience now.
We decided to wait to be induced until my parents arrived from London so I wouldn’t be leaving Sienna for too long. From that point, I couldn’t say what the hardest part was really.
I dreaded having to give birth and then hold our dead baby. I dreaded the funeral. But most of all I dreaded having to tell Sienna. I was so completely heartbroken that she wouldn’t be getting her baby brother after all.
We decided to prepare her so that she knew exactly what was going on. In the weeks that followed, she would recite the three sentences to me that we chose to tell her: ‘Baby brother is not in mummy’s tummy anymore. He has gone to be an angel. He’s going to look after me’.
I remember coming back home immediately after leaving the hospital with Oli and Sienna in a daze.
Walking around with my lifeless baby still inside was horrendous. I woke up in the night crying and went to sit on the sofa in our lounge and just wept. I have never cried like that.
Oli would tell me how sad it made him to see double buggies in the street, or tiny babies strapped to their mummy’s front dressed in blue.
I understood completely as these babies seemed to be in every park I visited with Sienna, but I had to get on with it because there was no way that I couldn’t take her to the park.
It does get easier with time, but as with any kind of grief, it hits you when you least expect it; and it is debilitating.
I have found it specifically difficulty in answering the question from strangers about how many children I have — a question I have had to answer often, and I find it incredibly difficult and upsetting.
I feel a great sense of guilt saying that I have one child because this simply isn’t the case, but explaining about Sebastian is equally as traumatic and uncomfortable. I realise it is a conversation that I will always struggle with.
Though I was aware of stillbirths, it is something that you can’t ever imagine happening to you — especially after nine months of a perfect pregnancy where my baby was kicking around happily.