This page is dedicated to the memory of our lost babies. It would be lovely if our stories could give some comfort and hope to others.
Hannah was very much planned. When I was a little girl I always wanted to have a big family, and even used to be jealous that our dogs preferred my Mum to me. I met a wonderful man, fell in love, and we agreed that we wanted to have children. We decided to get married first and try for a baby about a year afterwards, which we did. When we started to try I was excited and terrified at the same time, but after six months of nothing but disappointment at the return of my period this turned to concern, and after 8 months it turned to fear. We went to see the doctors who confirmed our worst fears – that it was going to be difficult to have a baby without intervention. We both had numerous tests and operations, and saw many of our friends and relatives get pregnant. They say that when you want to be pregnant you feel like you are surrounded by pregnant women but in truth I really was – at one point every single one of my female friends was either expecting a baby or had recently had one. Then a miracle happened. I fell pregnant. It was a miracle because our chances of conceiving naturally were just so low. I just had a feeling one day though and did a test at work – I was so happy and excited that I just cried. It was 3rd January, a cold Winter’s day and I remember feeling so strange and warm. I remember a colleague of mine bumping in to me as I ran off to tell my husband; he must have wondered what the hell was wrong with me. We were so excited, and even gave our tiny embryo a silly name. Then, just one week after I started to bleed and lost the tiny, tiny life inside me over a 6 week stretch. Perhaps the baby was never going to be. Perhaps if I hadn’t taken the test it would have been a “missed miscarriage”. Sometimes people don’t grieve miscarriages and sometimes people do. I was one of the latter. I was absolutely devastated. I won’t describe the depths of despair that I felt, suffice it to say that I couldn’t speak to any of my friends and felt completely abandoned – even by God, and I stopped going to church. I remember being on the Heath when the hospital called me to confirm it and screaming at the top of my voice in despair. I even remember looking at a car one day and thinking that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it just ran me over. I just didn’t know what the point of it all was if I couldn’t be a mother. After some months of grief we went back to the doctor (who as it turned out graduated from the same place as me in the year below at university, and who I would inevitably been out clubbing with at some point). She referred us immediately for fertility treatment and within a couple of weeks we were at Guys, with a registrar giving us the incredible news that we could have ICSI (a slightly more advanced form of IVF) immediately. This we duly did, hoping and praying that it would be successful not least because we only qualified for one round on the NHS ( subsequent cycles would have cost around £5000). I did over 20 tests before I accepted that I was pregnant. I cried with relief at 7 weeks when they checked the heartbeat, at 9 weeks when they told me that everything was still fine, and at 12 weeks too. All through my pregnancy I was terrified that it would end prematurely. For so many – too many – women it does and I didn’t think I could cope with it being me again. But we were lucky this time and God, and our lost baby (who will never ever leave our hearts), was smiling on us. I will never forget the baby I didn’t get to hold.
Two years ago, almost to the day, I sat down with my then boyfriend and a glass of red wine and we talked about having children. We’d been together for 10 years, ever since school, and we realised that we were as ready as we were going to be. So the next month I stopped taking the pill and a month after that I was pregnant. I was so shocked, it was our first attempt and I had just assumed that it would take months. Not sure why, perhaps I thought that the gametes needed to learn the ropes before they’d join forces???
As each day passed I let myself become more excited and at the 12 week scan, seeing my little baby was magical. I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling like I had a secret friend who came everywhere with me. My bump was nicknamed Linux (yes, after the operating system!) It was me and my little growing baby against the world. I had a constant horrible queasiness and couldn’t stomach any vegetables. All I wanted was sugar, cakes and doughnuts. I couldn’t concentrate at work because I felt so grotty, but I loved it all.
When I reached the halfway point I let myself relax a little, and felt so proud when at the 20 week scan we were told our baby was beautiful and perfect. We didn’t want to know whether we were having a boy or girl, just to know that everything was ok, which it was. Over the next few weeks I began to organise my maternity leave with work, and start getting the house in order. Everyone was excited, relatives were talking to my bump, colleagues were looking forward to some happy news.
Then at 25 weeks everything changed. On the Monday I’d felt edgy that Linux had been a bit quiet, but I’d read that at about 24 weeks the baby’s movements changed, so I tried not to worry and kept going as usual. By the end of the day I was getting very worried and I remember waiting for tube just willing my baby to kick. And then he/she did kick! A nice powerful one. Unmistakeable. I was so incredibly grateful. That was the last kick I felt. When I returned to work it took me a long time to be able to stand in that spot on the station platform.
Anyway, the next day, I went to work as usual. I’m the sort of person who’ll go into work when you should be off sick, and I somehow felt that if I carried on as if everything was normal then it would all be ok. That afternoon I had a routine midwife appointment. When she asked me how everything was I told her that I hadn’t felt many movements since yesterday evening. Straight away she wanted to listen in with the doppler. She couldn’t find the heartbeat. Neither could the next midwife. They took me for an ultrasound and all the while I was telling myself it would all be ok. Then the sonographer said those awful words “Anna I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat”. It felt as if the entire hospital building was collapsing on top of me and I put my hands on my face to protect it and struggled to breathe. They must be wrong I thought, this doesn’t happen, babies don’t just die. I even thought that they can’t die because how can anyone give birth to a baby that has died? It was one of the saddest moments of my entire life. A second sonographer came to confirm that my baby had died, then I was taken back to the consulting room where I phoned my boyfriend at work to tell him. I then phoned my mum and my sister. Those conversations were so painful I could hardly summon the words to say what had happened. I cried and cried, alone in that hot a stuffy little room until my family arrived.
I gave birth to my beautiful angel three days later. It was three days because they gave me some medicine to stop me producing progesterone and sent me home for two days, before bringing me back in to be induced. The experience was utterly horrible, but the instant my baby was born an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling filled the room. I had a daughter, and she was perfect. I held her wrapped in a blanket, and through tearful eyes my boyfriend asked me to marry him. I can’t imagine a more meaningful way to be asked.
Rose Anna was born at 4am and stayed in our arms until the next morning. We watched a breathtaking sunrise together as a family, we took photos, my fiancee sang to her, and I looked at every perfect little part of her, taking her all in. As we left the hospital the next day I was proud and strong. I couldn’t believe that I’d faced up to the most frightening thing I’d ever had to do and survived.
The days, weeks and months that followed were the hardest I’ve ever known. During the days I drifted around the house feeling very slim and very lonely, and after three months I couldn’t take any more and I went back to work. In the meantime my fiancee and I were keeping busy by preparing for our wedding and we had decided that we did want to try for a second baby. We would just wait and see, and if it happened it happened. Well, it happened, and I found out the day before Mother’s Day and two days before Rose’s due date.
The pregnancy was nerve-wracking, but me and James worked as a team and we got through it all together with me trying to stay calm, and James being wonderfully kicky. I feel so fortunate that I have James and I know that I could not have had James and Rose because of the timing. I do regret that I didn’t go in to be checked as soon as I was worried about movements, but in my case it wouldn’t have made a difference as Rose died due to a constriction in her cord.