In January 2012, at 6am, before work…one magic stick showed positive! We were delighted and I skipped off to work beaming inside, but aware that it was extremely early days and we would need to keep it quiet for a while yet! As a nurse however, by 6 weeks I felt the need to let my employers know, purely as a safety precaution. Immediate family had been made aware by then too! Our 12 week scan date arrived and all looked very well. Our baby was developing nicely, no problems noted. Delighted and very excited, we shared the good news with the rest of the world. Everyone was so very happy for us and from then on all I could think about and talk about was our baby. In fact I even naughtily bought a couple of baby things…I couldn’t contain myself.
The next couple of months went by merrily as I luckily felt well during the pregnancy. I remember the first flutter of movement which quickly turned into acrobats. I loved every movement. The weeks passed and before we knew it we were having our 20 week scan. My partner and I were really looking forward to seeing our baby again, we hadn’t thought about the fact that this scan had a medical purpose to look for anomalies and check growth. Unfortunately, all was not well; we came back for a thorough scan with a consultant two days later. Her findings were extremely rare and she had not seen it before herself.
To investigate further, we had to visit the specialists at the Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton. Another very long, detailed scan confirmed the findings were extremely rare and complex. We had an amniocentesis to rule out any genetic cause for our baby’s condition – this was a long and very uncomfortable procedure. We left the hospital exhausted, emotionally drained and our brains completely frazzled. We had to wait a week for the results and there were to be further meetings with various specialists. In the meantime we tried to keep busy and carry on as normal. We still went to a Christening and a wedding, during which I chatted away about my baby and future plans as if all was well. I was in complete denial that something was very wrong.
Our unborn baby was diagnosed with an exceptionally rare condition called Lymphangioma (malformations of the lymphatic system). With so few cases known, there was very little they could do to help her. We came to the conclusion that we didn’t want our little angel to suffer anymore and she did not deserve a life potentially full of surgery and illness. We said goodbye to our baby Sarah in Mayat 23 weeks and gave birth to her 2 days later in the SPRING suite. The privacy and comfort of the room was invaluable. It gave us our own personal space to deal with such a devastating situation in peace and in our own time. We went on to have counselling through SPRING which helped both of us hugely to talk about our baby and the sad journey we had made. We arranged a private funeral for her so we could both say goodbye properly. It was extremely emotional but it was a lovely way to set her free from our pain, up to a place where we knew she would be happy and looked after by other lost loved ones.
I never have and never will stop thinking about Sarah and how much I miss her, but my partner and I knew we still wanted to try again for another baby. What would have been Sarah’s due date arrived and we marked it by lighting a candle and thinking of her together at home. Not long after that, I fell pregnant again. Another magic stick showed positive the following November. We were delighted of course, but our excitement was held back by the memories of the pain we went through last time. We were very cautious this time about telling people. It was difficult to shake the fear of something awful happening again, even though Sarah’s condition was so rare. However, we were under consultant care, had regular scans to check babies development closely and much to our relief all was well this time. The 20 week scan showing no problems was a huge relief and from then on I tried to relax a bit. I was lucky to have a very enjoyable pregnancy with very little discomfort. We found out we were having another girl and knew this was our second chance – a chance to give our little miracle all the love we had ready to give Sarah. We were unbelievably excited and felt truly blessed to have a successful pregnancy the second time around. I embraced every amazing movement she made, feeling her growing inside me, knowing that she was developing well. We couldn’t wait to meet her and she knew it…Scarlett was born four days early (on the same day as Prince George) and in a hurry to get out too! As I sat gazing at our beautiful daughter I realised that although, at the time, those dark days seemed like they would never end, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. When your turn comes, you feel like the luckiest person alive and it makes us grateful every single day that we have our amazing rainbow baby Scarlett.