Category Archives: REAL STORIES

Adam’s story…

spring_logo_250‘What shocked my husband most was the realisation that I would have to experience labour and the delivery of a baby that was dead…’

Last year my husband and I made the single most distressing decision of our marriage. With medical support and advice we decided to have a medical termination. We had been for a routine 20 week scan. As I had already been for one at twelve weeks I thought it was just a formality but the sonographer saw a cyst like mass and said we were going to have to see the consultant. Two days later sitting with the consultant and his team it was the worst possible news. The scan had shown that our baby, Adam, had multiple tumours and other complications that could not be treated. In reaching the decision the consultant told us it would be the greatest act of kindness and in shock we agreed. We were ushered past lots of pregnant women in the waiting room to a small office with cups of teas and apologies for the lack of space and time to come to terms with what would happen next. It all happened so quickly after signing papers and being shown the SPRING suite I was given some medication and told to come back two days later.

What shocked my husband most was the realisation that I would have to experience labour and the delivery of a baby that was dead. On the morning I was so scared and frightened, the longest day of my life. But even high on morphine when I saw him, held him and touched him it was obvious he was a very poorly baby. When I got home it felt very strange as though I had got off the walk of life and everything else was carrying on as normal. We both handled grief in very different, and at times, difficult ways. Initially I was in a state of confusion. Had we done the right thing? Would I be judged and lose friends? Thousands of questions went round my head and the guilt, emptiness and longing continued. There were times when I didn’t want to carry on with life. I felt crushed, alone with my fears and there were, and still are many, many tears.

I had a relationship with Adam that no one else had been privileged to have and against all my religious beliefs I had chosen the time he died. I wanted answers as to why this happened to us? Why now? If there were an explanation would I come to terms with the situation differently? I never considered myself a deeply religious person, but when it really mattered I felt at odds with some of the doctrines of my Church. I still have faith and the God I believe in would not have wanted Adam to suffer.

I’m sorry that we were put in the position to have to make such a heart wrenching decision, but I still feel we made the right choice. As we approach Adam’s anniversary I still don’t have the answers, but I know things now that I would never have before, and I take some comfort in believing that this is what Adam came to show me. Throughout the year my family, friends and professionals have been amazingly supportive. To my surprise no one judged me and I didn’t lose friends. It has made me appreciate each day as a gift that’s why we call it the present. Through the greatest loss I discovered that you could grasp the fullness of life with both hands or watch it trickle through your fingers like grains of sand. Each day presents its own challenges and we all have a choice in how we deal with them one step at a time.

A Dad’s Perspective

spring_logo_250‘…there I was, sat holding my partner’s hand and watching as my baby’s heartbeat stopped, never to start again’

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m crying as I write this. That is the reality of losing a child. It is 1am on a Friday morning and you can’t always predict when it will hit you hard. My partner and I lost our baby daughter Mia on the 18th of July 2009, at 22 weeks. It was nerve racking to find out we were having a baby, but we were very happy and determined to raise a great child.

At our 20 week scan we were told that Mia wasn’t growing right and that she had a hole in her heart. Through subsequent trips to Southampton and then Poole we were left with the terrible decision to either terminate or let Mia struggle on to live no longer than 28 weeks. I won’t go in to details about procedures, but on the 16th of July 2009 there I was, sat holding my partner’s hand and watching as my baby’s heartbeat stopped, never to start again. I can honestly say this was, and is, the single worst moment of my life. Nothing prepares you for that. No parental book tells you the other side to pregnancy. I was devastated, but kept all my emotions intact for my partner’s sake – she needed me more than ever and that was all I could care about. The next three days were tough leading up to the birth; it is here that we first encountered the SPRING charity. The facilities donated by them at Poole Hospital are a godsend, I couldn’t imagine going through what we went through on a full maternity ward, with new babies and new mothers everywhere. The whole day of July 18th 2009 was tough, but I will never forget the short time I spent with Mia after she was born and all the support we received from midwives and SPRING counsellors. We now have a 12 week old baby girl, Lila Mia, born on Valentine’s Day 2011. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Mia and I see her little face in Lila every time I look at her. I still tend to keep my emotions to myself, as a lot of men do. I’d like to say it gets easier or better, and it does in some ways, but there will be times when it grabs hold of you and won’t let go. It is then that SPRING can be there in any way you need; there is always someone willing to listen.

Thank you SPRING

Baby Mollie Rose Mitchell’s Story

spring_logo_250‘My heart began to sink, the consultant switched off the machine and then it was confirmed…’

I just want to start by saying that I find it so difficult to put into words such a heart-breaking experience, as I can’t find the words to express how sad losing our child was, as I am sure most of you reading this will know. Over a year on and I still cry most days and not a day goes by when I don’t think about what our daughter might have looked like, or what she would be doing and saying.

In October 2010, my husband Pete and I were lucky enough to fall pregnant with our second child and even though I am a Type 1 diabetic I went through the pregnancy with no other complications. Also, we already have a beautiful 5 year old little girl, Isabelle.

On the eve of Sunday 19th June 2011, we went to Poole Hospital to get ready for a routine C – section the following morning. My Husband had to take Isabelle home to bed, so after saying goodbye to a very excited daughter and husband, I settled down ready for the night.  A midwife came to check on me and to explain the routine for the following morning. She asked how I was and if I’d felt movement. After feeling anxious the whole day, I did ask the midwife to put me on a monitor as hadn’t felt much movement, well actually none at all on that day, but didn’t think anything of it. The midwife went to get a monitor and placed it on my tummy…then…nothing. I saw a look of slight panic on her face and I started to cry. Although she tried to reassure me and asked her colleague to come over and have another go, there was still no sound of that lovely baby’s heartbeat. The midwives walked me to a side room (which I now know was the SPRING suite), where a consultant was waiting with a scan machine. I was still holding out some hope that my baby was hiding, or being awkward, but on the other hand I had a very, very bad feeling.  The consultant scanned me, which at the time felt like hours, and I remember just looking at the worried look on everyone’s face. Then my heart began to sink, the consultant switched off the machine and then it was confirmed, “I am sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat” he said.

I screamed, I shouted, I cried and was also sick. What has happened? Why me? What have I done? So many questions ran through my head, and I went into shock and complete disbelief. Then the realisation came that I had to tell my husband and daughter. It was the worst feeling in the world as I felt like I had let so many people down. Without giving my husband any details, the midwife called him and asked him to come back to the hospital.  When he arrived he walked into the room with a smile on his face as he thought I had gone into labour, and then I had to break the news to him. It was devastating.

After a night of decision making and sadness we still decided to go ahead with the c-section the following day. Going through a natural labour knowing I wouldn’t be holding my live baby at the end of it would be even harder.

When Mollie was delivered, the room was so quiet as there was no hustle and bustle of excitement or people talking and most importantly no baby crying. We decided to have Mollie cleaned up before we held her, so when we were ready the midwife brought her to us.  What a sad, sickening moment, holding your baby knowing she will never experience the world, cry, walk, talk, go to school or enjoy life. However, we also felt so proud to have another beautiful daughter who also made us smile.

All of our immediate family had a cuddle with Mollie and as there was instant love for her, she felt part of the family straight away. The SPRING suite was our home for the next few days so our family and close friends were able to visit us and also meet and cuddle Mollie.

The next few days were a blur really, and so many decisions had to be made. Without the support of SPRING and of course, our family and friends, we would not have got through such a sad time.

In September 2011, the post mortem results came back saying the placenta had stopped working maybe a few days before I was due to give birth.  Although there was nothing I could have done differently or to prevent this from happening, there is still that guilty feeling.

In April 2012, my husband Pete, some family and friends made up Team Mollie and ran the Bournemouth 10K run in memory of Mollie to raise money for the SPRING charity, together with ‘Team Daisy’. It was a lovely day in memory of two beautiful babies.

It’s now September 2012, and we are ever so lucky to have a new addition to the family. Stanley Lucas Mitchell was born on 6 June 2012 and he is an absolute delight. Although we will always love and be so proud of our beautiful Mollie and will never ever forget her, Stanley has helped us move on from such a sad time in our lives.

Daisy Johnston – Our story

spring_logo_250‘She took her place in the hearts of our family….’

In the early hours of Monday 21 February 2011, after 41 weeks and five days of anticipation and excitement, our beautiful little baby was born – a 6lb 6oz girl we called Daisy Johnston. However, what was meant to be a joyous celebration of our firstborn child has been a nightmare. Despite a wonderful, complication-free pregnancy – so low risk, we opted for a homebirth – Daisy was stillborn. We’d lost her in the last few hours of labour.

Nick (my husband) and I had been trying to conceive for about four years. In fact, we were about to have IVF treatment when, as so often happens, we discovered we’d conceived naturally. Words can’t describe how ecstatic and blessed we felt. Despite trying for so long, it was still a surprise! Everything about the pregnancy was happy and easy – from telling our family and friends to not even getting a sniff of morning sickness.

Early on in the pregnancy a friend told me about hypnobirthing, a set of techniques to prepare for and cope with labour. It’s based on the principle that if mum is relaxed, then labour can be relaxed and there is less need for medical interventions. It might sound a bit hippy, but the more I read about it, the more it resonated with me. And I can honestly say it worked for us too. On Sunday 20 February at about 6.30pm, I felt what I thought were contractions. We called the hospital who told me to have a bath to see if the contractions continued, which they did. And so, at 9pm, we asked the hospital to send a midwife. The atmosphere in our house was exactly as we’d planned – relaxed and serene. The midwife confirmed I was in labour and we listened in to baby and heard a good, strong heartbeat. By now it was about 10.30pm and I was 3cm dilated. “You’re doing really well,” the midwife told us, “there’s going to be a baby here by the morning.” Nick got the birthing pool set up and I continued listening to my hypnobirthing CD.

Our first midwife left us about 11.30pm and we called for another about an hour later. By the time she arrived it was 1.30am and I was in the birthing pool. I was still coping really well with the contractions, although they had definitely intensified. I got out of the pool to use the loo and then the midwife examined me. To my surprise, I was fully dilated and she said before I started to push, we’d listen in to baby. That’s when our world fell apart. The midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat and we could see she looked as shocked and scared as us. The next few hours are a blur. The ambulance. Being rushed into a delivery room. The monitors. The doctors’ faces. Giving birth to our baby. Her lifeless body being placed on my chest and then being whisked away. Being told she’d died. Pure shock. Inconsolable grief. Nick calling our family. Their arrival at the hospital. You’re reading this, which means you know how it goes.

I describe the first few hours and days as being like a war-zone. We stumbled around like wounded soldiers – merely existing. My mantra was ‘nothing will ever be worse than those first 24 hours, maybe as bad, but never worse.’ Looking back, I don’t know how we survived – but we did. The love and support of our amazing family and friends definitely helped, as did the care and guidance we received from SPRING. At the end of that Monday, we moved into the SPRING Suite to spend two precious nights with our baby. Being able to bond as a family, to look adoringly at our beautiful girl, to hold her and share her with her grandparents, aunts and uncles was amazing. She took her place in the hearts of our family.

Returning home with empty arms was horrendous. I just remember going into the lounge and pulling a blanket over my head. At times, it felt like I’d never been pregnant, that we hadn’t had a baby. But the family and friends who stayed with us, and the messages, cards and flowers we received from others, gave us strength. People would say ‘no words will help’ but actually they did. Knowing people were feeling our pain, and thinking of us and Daisy, really did help.

We decided to let Daisy go for a post mortem – mainly because if there was an explanation for what happened, then we wanted to know, particularly as we want Daisy to be a big sister to other children we have in future. Strangely, this gave us time to plan a funeral that would be poignant and special. The ceremony was led by a wonderful humanist celebrant, and Nick and I read letters we’d written, and music was played that summed up our feelings of love and loss. It was a bittersweet occasion – so, so sad, but also rather beautiful as so much meaning was attached to such a little life.

Daisy’s legacy. At the same time, we wanted to do something truly positive and inspiring in Daisy’s name. Within a week of Daisy dying, Nick had signed up for the Bournemouth Bay 10K run, which was taking place on Sunday 3 April – Mothers’ Day. We told family and friends about the run and, to our amazement, a further 19 people had joined Team Daisy. The day itself was magical. Donned in Team Daisy t-shirts featuring a picture of our beautiful little girl, our team members literally ran Daisy around the streets of Bournemouth. The runners were of varying degrees of fitness, so they all came in at different times. This was great for the Team Daisy supporters. Dotted along the route, we cheered and shouted as each runner went by. Daisy was the talk of the town – and even got name-checked in the Daily Echo’s post event article! Best of all, Team Daisy was fundraising for SPRING – raising an unbelievable £10,000 (and still counting!). What an amazing legacy! As Nick said, Daisy has contributed more in her short little life than many people do in a lifetime. After the run, we had a garden party and hog-roast at our house. It was another opportunity to share Daisy with our family and friends – and to ensure she is never forgotten.

We know we are only at the start of recovering from the loss of our first-born child, but thanks to SPRING, we have been given the foundations on which to rebuild our lives. Being able to give something back to SPRING has made us feel incredibly proud. Like most people, we had no idea that babies were stillborn at the end of a complication-free pregnancy. Sadly for us, like so many others, a window has been opened on a world we knew nothing about. Nobody talks about it until it happens to you. Then it seems everyone knows someone who’s had a similar experience. That makes me sad. But if the money raised in Daisy’s name can help others who find themselves a member of this club that no-one wants to join, then at least we have found something positive in all this. It means we have gained, as well as lost.

Amy’s story…

spring_logo_250My world fell apart as he said “I’m afraid I can’t detect her heartbeat”.

On 7 September 2007 life was changed forever as I attended my first ante-natal appointment with the consultant at Mayday Hospital, Croydon. I was 39 weeks pregnant with my fourth child and was really excited at getting an appointment to be induced the following week. He asked me if I had been feeling plenty of movements and I said that I hadn’t felt many movements for the last couple of days, but that I had mentioned it to my midwife two days before and she was unconcerned as my baby’s heartbeat was, at that time, ‘a strong, healthy heartbeat’. As I lay on the bed and waited to hear the lovely sound of her heat beating away, my world fell apart as he said “I’m afraid I can’t detect her heartbeat”. I was sent to the scanning department straight away and then saw for myself the still image of my baby. It then felt like some kind of out of body experience that was happening to someone else. I somehow arrived in a delivery room and waited for my husband to arrive.

At 3.15am on Saturday 8 September 2007 my beautiful, perfect, baby girl Amy, arrived into the world. She was 6lb 11oz and had lots of lovely dark hair. We all waited to hear her cry, as even though we knew she wouldn’t we just hoped they were wrong. I held her and looked at her beautiful face, with eyes I would never see open to look up at me. As we left the hospital that morning I had to walk past all the women cradling their new babies in their arms while I left with a couple of leaflets. I remember thinking ‘WHY ME?’

As we walked into our house and were greeted by our other children, the look on their little faces will probably haunt me for the rest of my life, such sad confused faces looking for answers that we couldn’t give. Many people assume that having other children makes the death of a baby easier somehow, but my daughter Chloe kissed my bump every night for my whole pregnancy and said goodnight to Amy before she went to bed and explaining to her, and my other children, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a parent. Baby loss is devastating whatever the circumstances and it is a roller coaster of emotions that you have to ride every day. Sadly, not every hospital has a SPRING and I had no support until I discovered the SANDS online forum, which, I have to say, is a very dark place to find yourself in. I connected with parents who understood, but I find it very sad that in many areas this is the only type of support available.

I have since been blessed with a two ‘Rainbow Babies’ who have brought joy back into my life. I had Abby in Poole Maternity Unit last year and although any pregnancy after loss is extremely tough, I will always be grateful to Gena, the day unit midwives and SPRING for all the support they gave me.

Amy will forever be missed, but I now realize how precious life is and you should treasure it always.