A mother tells her story about losing her first child, she tells it so that a mother and father may never have to go through the heartbreak they did...
I used to have a sister but she died. That's the sentence my 4yr old says and its devastating, it makes me cry when he says it. He never met Charlotte but every day we include her in our life, some people might find that odd or upsetting or think it is the wrong thing to do, but for me she is my daughter and I have two children. He often says, push the little girl and points to the next swing when we are at the park. I know she is here but how cruel is life.
January 2012, I was at work when I took a sneaky pregnancy test and got a positive. It had been a long road, early miscarriages, feeling like it would never happen and I was in my mid thirty's, but there it was and this time it was going to be ok.
The 12 week scan was here, finally and for the first time ever I saw a baby in my tummy, I had actually done it! I was so overjoyed, id made it to 12 weeks, spent most of it vomiting, Id had that all important scan, it was all going to be fine now, finally.
A pretty uneventful pregnancy went by week by week, we had one episode of reduced movement at 28weeks and had a trip to triage but it was like a party when the monitor was attached so we were sent home reassured. I was tired, I reduced my hours at work, I was huge, but I was ok. I attended all the appointments, did my birth plan and shopped so much! I was on a mission! We found out the sex and picked a name, we bonded so much, she was so graceful in my tummy.
The 10th of October was my due date, and that falls within baby loss awareness week every year, I was quite ignorant to baby loss other than miscarriage. Babies dying happened to other people was always my thought and it wasn't happening to me.
When I think back to 2012 I feel like I have forgotten so much but actually, when I sit and write I realise that ive blocked so much out, my bodies way of preventing the pain that stopped me doing so much I guess? I can see how far Ive come from a point where I would say out loud "how are we going to get through this", "what are we going to do"
2 September 2012 a Sunday, my moms birthday, she had died in 1996 when I was 18, from cancer. The week before I had such a strong feeling that something was going to happen on the 2nd, I just presumed, why would I think any differently, that Charlotte would be born that day. It was about 4am when I woke up momentarily with the strangest feeling, I went back to sleep, I didn't really know what it was or what it meant, I came to learn that it was probably around the time Charlotte died.
I got up as normal that morning and went to work for a few hours, I remember I stroked my tummy a lot. About 6pm I called triage reporting reduced movement, they said come in, we'd been before and everything was fine so it would be this time right? We waited a while and were called through, its funny the things you remember, the midwife told me off for getting on the bed with my shoes on. She tried to find a heartbeat but couldn't, she was very calm and said I think we will go in the other room and do a quick scan, ile just get it warmed up. As soon as she left the room I knew, I knew Charlotte was gone, id already started saying "why cant they find it?" I was crying so much. We were shown to a scan room, I even asked if I needed to take my shoes off!
The most wonderful Doctor started to scan and said the words that I hear daily "m sorry." I sobbed so much and said "why", she said "i don't know but I will find out." The medical staff left us for a while. Its strange when I think back that my main questions were around what was going to happen? where they just going to take charlotte out of my tummy there and then? How was it all going to work? it was a sunday night so none of the bereavement team were at the hospital, who as going to talk to us. When it was time to leave the hospital, everyone waiting would know what had happened, that's what I believed, how could I face people? id failed in my role to get my little girl here safely.
I was given medication that evening and sent home, instructed to make contact on Tuesday morning to see if there was a space for me to come in and give birth. She wouldnt just be taken out, I would still go through labour. Because still birth is such a taboo, so many people just don't realise that you do actually give birth, that's a really important process physically and mentally. For me it meant that I could succeeded in one part of my role as a mother.
Monday came, people wanted to descend upon us to 'help' and support us, but we needed space. We soon came to realise that we supported many other people and that their visits were actually to help them more than to help us. I didn't sleep much that night, I cried a lot, I felt like charlotte was moving, hoping that the doctors were wrong, but she had gone and it was the most devastating time of my life. How we got through the next few days I don't really know, simple tasks took hours, we just played a waiting game, waiting for Tuesday to make that call to the hospital. Of all the things, the call from mamas and papas on Monday morning with an eta for the delivery of our nursery furniture.
Tuesday came, my partner could hardly speak as he tried to explain to the receptionist the reason for our call. we were told to go down, we were told we would be shown straight to a room but there we were, sat in the main waiting area convinced everyone knew why we were there. We sat for 30min, too scared to ask to be dealt with as I didn't want attention drawing to us. Eventually we were shown to the abbey suite. There are two abbey rooms, both with their own bathroom, they sit there waiting for families going through hell. And that's where we spent 36 hours near enough.
Charlotte was born at 3.15am on Wednesday 5 September 2012, it was the perfect birth, so calm, I was so in control, everything was lovely actually, which sounds strange but it was, it was the perfect way for her to enter the world. We had the music playing that we had on the video of the 3D scan we'd had done a few months back - Israel Kamakawiwoʻole somewhere over the rainbow- the heart breaking thing was she didn't cry. I cradled the most beautiful girl to my chest, lovely thick dark hair, 6LB of adorableness, but she had gone. How can you move on from that?
Ive questioned so many things since that day, tortured myself, tried to find a path through. This subject is so taboo it makes getting out of bed each day even harder because people just don't know what to say. I find myself saying I only have one child because I know that they wont face me if I tell them the truth, but I have two, yes that's their problem but its not when people blank you or when it starts to affect your business, those are some of the things ive faced. I am getting stronger now and I understand my new 'normal'.
I'm quite pleased that people don't understand actually as Ifeel the only way to have some understanding is to have suffered a similar pain.
There is so much more to our story, our journey, this is a very small glimpse for baby loss awareness week to let you into the devastation families face when a child dies.
Please share this with your friends and family, educate them.
I didn't know about monitoring movements, now i'm a huge supporter of kicks Count, I didn't know about the dangers of pregnancy, I was ignorant to them. Trust your instincts, educate yourself, lets try and save more little lives.
Baby Loss Awareness week 9-15 October 2017 - worldwide wave of light on the 15th October at 7pm, join us by lighting a candle for little lives lost