[I need to write all of this down. Somewhere in the 400 posts I've written I may have already told parts of this story but I have a need to write this down and get it all out. I need to spend a couple of hours writing my story about the day that broke my heart - maybe it will be therapeutic]
I was feeling really strange and put it down to knowing my partner was leaving in November with the army to go out to Iraq. He was going to be gone for six months in total but he would get a two week break somewhere in those six months where I would see him again. I’d already had a taster of what it was going to feel like as he had spent September in training, only coming home at weekends, and he would continue to train until they would be leaving at the start of November. It was tough, we had only been together for around eight months and were head over heels in love… six months apart was going to make us or break us… I was determined it would be the former.
It was Monday 23rd October 2006 and my friend was so convinced that the weird way I was acting was not just about my fiancé leaving but actually due to something else that she remembered all too well. She asked me to watch her kids for five minutes and she dashed out to the shops. When she returned she handed me a pregnancy test – I almost laughed in her face – I almost slapped her face – she knew I didn’t have periods and had been told I don’t ovulate due to my PCOS being pretty severe. How could she think I was pregnant? It had been like three years since I’d had a period, apart from a couple of artificial ones induced by progesterone tablets from my GP.
I felt angry with her. Pregnancy tests aren’t cheap and I knew she had just wasted money for nothing. To shut her up I went and peed on the stick. I left it in the bathroom, came back into the living room and lit a cigarette. She kept asking me was I going to go and get the test and I said it could wait til I’d finished my cig. It was going to be negative anyway.
It was positive.
I was completely speechless – how could this have happened? I didn’t have periods, appeared not to ovulate, my partner had only been here at weekends for over a month… how could this little miracle have happened?
The next few hours passed in a blur. Telling my Mum. Telling my fiancé on the phone and hearing him get all the army lads to cheer. Going and seeing his mum and getting such a huge cuddle from her. Going to the chemist and buying the lowest dose nicotine replacement tabs to stop smoking immediately. I got an emergency appointment with my doctor and made the decision to stop my Citalopram (the only med I took back then) immediately. Everything was suddenly just complete perfection. And now I knew for sure that we would definitely get through the next six months and just as he would be coming home our little baby would be getting ready to arrive.
I went to the maternity unit at the local hospital and explained I had no idea how far along I was and asked if it would be possible to have the first scan in the next week as my fiancé was leaving so soon. We managed to get the scan sorted asap just days before he was leaving for Iraq. I was so nervous and scared, surely I couldn’t be this lucky? I was convinced the scan would show nothing and it was all one big mistake. I was being so narky with my other half and everything was irritating me. Why wasn’t my hair straightening properly?! I was getting so agitated and then my other half asked me to turn round. There he was down on one knee with the ring box open – “will you marry me?” he said. I gave him the biggest cuddle ever. Life just couldn’t get any more perfect.
The gel was squirted onto my tummy and there in front of us was a little jelly bean just 7 weeks gestation. I had tears in my eyes and we both got a scan photo each. I couldn’t believe I was so lucky. I was going to be a Mummy.
The pregnancy was pretty easy going, I had a couple of light bleeds at the start but another scan at 9 weeks showed everything was going OK. My Mum came to that one with me and she looked so proud of her little grandbaby jelly bean. It was hard only speaking to my fiancé once a week and spending Christmas without him, but I can still remember all the little milestones – reaching 12 weeks and beginning to relax. Buying my first maternity clothes around 14 weeks when jeans were getting too tight. Having my fiancés Mum come with me at 16 weeks to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Before I knew it I was fast approaching the ‘big’ scan at 20 weeks. It was perfectly timed as my fiancé had just found out he was getting his two weeks at home and he was due home two days before the scan.
I was so so happy to see him again. He couldn’t believe how much of a bump I had already. Even though he couldn’t feel anything yet, I could feel lots of little wriggly feelings inside me, like flutterings of butterfly wings in my tummy. I was really starting to feel like a Mum and the next scan just made everything so much more real. Our baby had grown so much since we last saw the tiny jelly bean – it was now a proper looking baby and the first time my fiancé heard the heartbeat. I asked the sonographer if he could tell the sex and he said yes.. so then my fiancé and I just looked at each other and smiled.. “can you tell us what the sex is please?” I asked.
“It’s a boy, a beautiful baby boy” the sonographer told us. I don’t think I have ever smiled so much in my life.
We went straight to baby shops and ordered the perfect pram. It cost a fortune but we didn’t care. When we got back home we went to see my parents and show them the new scan photos. They said they had something for the baby and took us through to the spare bedroom where there was the most beautiful pine rocking crib. It looked brand new so I was in total shock when Mum told me it had been mine when I was born – 25 years old at that point! We disassembled it and took it home, immediately reassembling it and putting it next to our bed. Everything was becoming so real and so so exciting.
The next two weeks went past far too quickly and before I knew it I only had a couple of days left with my fiancé before he was back off to Iraq again. On Saturday February 10th 2007 tragedy struck. I started having slight cramps in the morning but we had a birthday party to attend in the afternoon so I got myself ready and off we went. The stomach cramps were getting worse but I didn’t want to be a party pooper so I just told myself it was normal, maybe just a bit of muscle pain as things were stretching inside me as baby grew. At around 3pm something was instinctively telling me that I needed to be checked out. I told my fiance I was just going to take a quick drive to the hospital and be checked over but he insisted on coming with me. We had to go to a&e as the local maternity unit wasn’t open at weekends and the nurse said it sounded like I had a urine infection. She asked me if I could give her a sample and handed me a little foil bowl.
I did my sample and sat it on top of the toilet cistern without looking at it. It was when I wiped myself I noticed the blood. Then I looked into the toilet and saw more blood. Then I looked in the foil bowl and it looked like it was filled completely with blood. I was terrified and burst into tears. The nurse still said it was a urine infection – I had a high white blood count which indicated an infection and she got the doctor to write me up some antibiotics. I kept saying it wasn’t a urine infection and that it was something else so they agreed to phone the midwife on call and have me checked over just to reassure me.
The midwife came and put the doppler on my tummy. She picked up baby’s heartbeat straightaway and I instantly relaxed. He was OK in there, maybe they were right, maybe it was just a bad urine infection causing the bleeding. The midwife monitored the bleeding for a while but it just continued to get heavier and heavier. I was soon soaking through a huge thick maternity pad in half an hour. She decided it was time for me to be transferred by ambulance to the main hospital almost an hour away. By this point I had two maternity pads on and a big incontinence type sheet under me. By the time the ambulance came, it was around 6pm and I was in agony. I was given gas and air immediately and off we went to the main hospital. I kept thinking I was in labour, but contractions were supposed to come and go. This was like one had hit it’s highest peak and now it wasn’t going away, I was just stuck in this utter agony and sucking the gas and air tube with every breath I had in me. At one point the little clip they had put on my toe to measure a pulse or something fell off, it went from beep, beep, beep to one long bleeeeep. I thought I was dead. The ambulance stopped for a moment so both paramedics could check me over. I was convinced I was dying because I just could not deal with the pain any longer. Why hadn’t the pain made me pass out by now? They put the blue lights on and got me to the main hospital as fast as they could.
7pm-ish and we arrive at the main hospital. I am so out my face on gas and air that I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I was still in a massive amount of pain and have no shame in admitting I was screaming in agony and couldn’t listen to any of the midwives who were telling me to calm down. I was just begging for pain relief and begging for someone to tell me what was happening to me. I remember being given an injection of pethidine which did nothing. I remember tossing myself back and forth on the bed, side to side, up then down, I couldn’t breathe or concentrate on anything. They wouldn’t give me any more gas and air til I calmed myself down but calming down was impossible in that much pain. Still they were talking about urine infections – I wanted to scream at them that this was not a fucking urine infection. I was losing so much blood that this just couldn’t be normal. I remember looking over to my fiancé and he just looked so helpless and scared, I knew he wanted to help so much but there was just nothing he could do except hold my hand.
Around 9pm I had calmed myself enough to ask to use the toilet. I needed to pee so badly but they didn’t want me standing up so they brought a bed pan for me. Suddenly I felt this huge gush which stunned me into silence. I just knew straight away it was my waters bursting…the pain stopped…I think the world stopped for a moment.
They brought an ultrasound machine into the room which confirmed my waters had broken and there was very little of them left. On a happy note my baby still had a strong heartbeat. The pain seemed to have died down a bit, it was more tolerable. The doctor explained that if I was to deliver the baby then there would be only a tiny percent chance he would be born alive and would likely die within minutes. If our baby showed no signs of life they would not attempt to resuscitate him; if he was born showing signs of life they would do their best for him. I was only 21 weeks and 5 days pregnant. The point of viability is 24 weeks. If he was born before the 24 week mark he would be classed as a late miscarriage, not a stillbirth. There would be no birth certificate or death certificate. I was determined that somehow we would make it if I just stayed in hospital, his little heartbeat was so strong, I really really tried to believe we could get through this with a happy outcome.
Around 11pm the pain started again and I was given an injection of diamorphine. It made me so drowsy that I slept off and on for the next couple of hours. Shortly before 1am the most painful stabbing feeling came out of nowhere in my lower back, I couldn’t sit or stand, all I could do was crouch down on my hands and knees and try to breathe through it. But it wouldn’t pass and in the space of 20 minutes I was ready to deliver. My angel was born at 1.24am on the 11th of February 2007, just one day before the 22 week mark. I waited for a little cry but it never came. I waited on someone telling me he was breathing and being taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, but no one did. I waited on someone asking me if we had a name for him, I waited and waited and waited to be told things could still be OK. My fiancé and I clung to each other as the midwife came back into the room. She had only been gone about 10 minutes but it felt like hours. She didn’t need to say anything, her face said it all. I could see her eyes looking a little welled up as well. Suddenly I was crying in huge sobs saying ‘no’ over and over again. My fiancé was holding onto me crying his eyes out as well. The midwife asked us if we would like to see him… I was scared and asked her if he looked like a baby… I had no idea what a 22 week gestation baby would look like. She said he was perfect.. his skin hadn’t formed properly yet so he was a bit red and his eyes were still closed but he was perfect in every way.
She couldn’t have been more right. He was completely perfect. Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. The cutest button nose. Tiny little feet and hands. Little lips that made him look like he was smiling. As I stroked my fingers over him I kept praying inside my head to someone, anyone, to somehow give him life. I’m not sure the midwife had experienced such a thing before, she was still young and didn’t try to hide the fact that she was devastated for us. I saw her wiping a tear from her eye as she left us alone with him for a while. As my fiancé and I both cuddled in on the single bed with our tiny baby inside this tiny moses basket we both wept; through our tears we heard the cry of a newborn baby right through the wall from us. It tore my heart to shreds. Someone next door was enjoying their first few moments of motherhood…we were cuddling our tiny lifeless son and completely emotionally broken.
Around 5am we gave our baby back to the midwife and she took a photo of him and his footprints and handprints. She took his little body to a place called the quiet room and put us in a special room with a double bed in it which I guess was saved for these heart breaking times. Neither of us could sleep, we cried and held each other, we asked why this happened to us over and over. We were angry – why couldn’t the doctors have stopped this from happening? We were confused as this had all happened so suddenly without warning. We were both in complete shock and utter denial.
After just a couple of hours sleep it was 9am. We were woken by a nurse asking us if we would like a tea or coffee and some toast. NO!!! We wanted our baby! Who gave a fuck about tea or coffee or toast?! A doctor came to see us soon after, she made everything so clinical as she handed over an information pack about post-mortem’s and a consent form. She said she would be back later once we’d had the chance to read through everything and decided if we wanted a post-mortem or not.
We wanted answers, why had this happened? But I couldn’t bear the thought of someone cutting open my baby boy to find out if there was something wrong with him. I scanned the information pack but just couldn’t take it all in. I remember there being 3 options – one was a very simple post mortem which only looked at the external body to see if there was anything obvious that had caused the death. One was where they would cut him open and have a look on the inside. The final one was removing parts of him and putting them onto slides for a complete investigation. Very reluctantly and somewhat selfishly we opted for the second one. They could have a look inside him but there was no way they were taking parts out of him and put them onto any sort of microscope slides. Everything suddenly felt so clinical. All we wanted was to see our son again.
We asked a midwife if she could contact the hospital chaplain so our son could have a blessing. My parents were on their way to the hospital. When they arrived the four of us just cuddled and cried. They came with us to the quiet room for the blessing and to see their tiny grandson.
The doctor took hours to come back for the forms and then told us she had been away doing a cesarean section and that’s what had taken her so long to come back and sign the forms with us. Her complete insensitivity by telling us that made me just want to get out of that place there and then but my head was in a battle. I didn’t want to leave my son, I couldn’t leave him… but I couldn’t take him home with me and somehow made it to the car with empty arms.
We were sent out an appointment about 4 weeks later to see the consultant and get the post mortem results. This also meant we could have a funeral for him as his tiny body was released back to us. The funeral people collected his body and my fiancé and I both wrote letters to him in sealed envelopes, we put our favourite photo of Mummy and Daddy in his tiny white coffin and a little elephant with baby boy embroidered on it.
Hearing the post mortem results was so hard. We were told he was perfect in every way and there was nothing to indicate it was anything to do with his development that had caused me to go into labour. However they had found a lot of damage to the placenta; it had detached from my womb – 75% of it – a severe placental abruption. It meant he had only been getting 25% of what he needed through the umbilical cord. I felt awful, it was MY body that had let him down. It was my body that had caused this. The doctor said no, it was one of these tragic and unfortunate things that just happened with no reason. It was no one’s fault he said. But deep down I locked it in that it was my fault and my fault only. Four years on and the blame in my head still lies with me.
So when I talk about wanting to be with my baby again that is all of the reasons why.
When I talk about sacrificing my life for him it’s because I secretly carry around blame and guilt that all of this was somehow my fault.
When I talk about not being able to look at myself in the mirror and wanting to smash it, it’s because I carry such pain inside me and such hatred towards myself.
When I drag blades over my skin to destroy my body and release the pain that is so trapped, it is because no pain will ever hurt like losing my angel.
When I sit up at the cemetery and promise him I will be with him soon, I would do it in a heartbeat… but then those thoughts come back… who would love his memory like me? The promises I made to my Mum never to put her through the pain of losing a child..
Four years on and two years since my relationship with his Daddy ended, I am still stuck on that day that my heart was completely shattered.
And there you go, there is the story where one single moment changed my life forever… I blame myself, I hate myself, I hate that I don’t have a birth or death certificate for him as though he never existed, I would do anything for just one more moment with him. And for anyone who says that maybe it’s time to move on, move forwards with my life.. well I can’t.. because to me that is like forgetting him..
Until I am reunited with him again he will be the one and only thing that really truly matters to me… I’m just plodding on through life until it is time for our reunion.
I love you so much angel xxx