When I discovered I was pregnant for the first time, my husband and I were ecstatic. We'd been trying for awhile, and finally we had a positive pregnancy test. For anyone who has been trying to conceive, you would understand the roller-coaster ride.....the waiting game.....month in, month out. When it finally happened, we couldn't contain our excitement, and so shared our news with everyone. I was 8 weeks pregnant.
A couple of days after we shared our news, I started spotting. A "reassuring" GP convinced me that this was normal.
At 10 weeks, a scan confirmed there was no heartbeat.
Sorry for your loss. When I heard those words, I felt something I had never felt before. Absolute devastation.
It was awkward at first when people were still congratulating us on the pregnancy and we had to say We lost the baby. But life went on.....superficially. I recovered physically and continued on with work and my involvement in church life. But emotionally, I was fragile. Nobody understood what I had just been through.
About 6 months after our loss, another test revealed we were pregnant again. I breathed a sigh of relief when we passed the 10 week mark. And this time we waited until the "magic" 12 week mark “to be sure" before we told anyone. Things were fairly smooth sailing with this pregnancy. Sure, I suffered from fatigue in the first trimester, and I was queasy - but nothing that couldn't be fixed with some food right now! I was enjoying my pregnancy and the amazing way my body was changing to grow the life within me. We were in awe when we had the first scan and saw that everything was in its right place. No words can accurately describe the intensity of emotion when seeing your baby on the ultrasound screen for the very first time and seeing that it's all okay.
At 24 weeks, as I was getting ready for work, I noticed some very, very, very mild spotting. Because of my previous miscarriage, I sat there, unsure what to do. Was it enough to warrant a call to my obstetrician, or should I just go to work and see if anything happened? Something told me to make the call. After speaking to my obstetrician, I rang work and said I wouldn't be in.
My husband drove me to the hospital. At this stage we were assuming I'd be checked over, sent home and I'd go back to work the next day. But after my obstetrician examined me, I knew this wouldn't be the case. Your cervix is dilating.
So, I was put on bed rest, hooked up to monitors and given injections of steroids to try and slow things down. All the while, I was asked Are you in any pain? My answer was always No. My husband rang our church so people could start to pray. Then, after a couple of hours: You're still dilating. We are going to transfer you to another hospital with a NICU just in case. Ok. At this stage, I still thought things would slow down and I would be sent home. But the pain started in the ambulance on the way to the other hospital. Wow did the pain start! It was 12:30pm.
Five hours later, after enduring a drug-free labour, I gave birth to a tiny 790g baby boy. He was immediately whisked away and came back to us after what seemed like an eternity. He looked so tiny in the humidicrib. He was ventilated and the paediatrician was inflating his lungs as he brought him over to us. Despite being so small, he was perfectly formed in every way.
The next 12 hours were a blur of doctors and nurses faces, combined with a growing sense of uncertainty. I slept very little that night. I was in a single room in the maternity unit - and the sound of crying babies evoked such sadness when I realised I wasn't able to hold my own baby and comfort him.
After hours of praying and soul-searching, I was taken to the neo-natal unit in the early hours of the morning. Alexander hadn't made it through the night. Despite being given doses of steroids, his lungs were too immature to keep him alive. The next few hours were a fog of phone calls and tears. Our family came but most of the time together was spent in silence because nobody knew what to say. The social worker who visited didn't know what to say. Silence.
After being discharged from hospital, we had to make funeral arrangements. It’s not something we expected to be doing at 25 years of age.
The days, weeks and months after we lost Alex were surreal. We felt like we were in a time warp. We were standing still while everyone and everything continued to move around us. The days and especially the nights, were so heavy with the pain of sadness and loss. And the intensity of grief was something that we had never experienced before. People didn’t really know what to say to us, so many stayed away. The silence of our loss was so difficult to bear.
Eight years have passed since that day, and while life has moved on, and the sun has shone again for us, there will always remain a deep sense of sadness and loss within my heart for our beautiful little boy, Alexander.
This post was first published by Debbie on her blog, Aspiring Mum.
Losing a baby can feel like the most isolating experience in the world and it is something we often don’t talk openly about. If we can let one mother (or father or grandmother) know that she is not alone in her grief, then that is a good thing. You can help us support families experiencing baby loss by submitting your story, by leaving a comment below, and by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter.