The fourth story I am sharing this week is from Lindsay, here is her story…
I am Lindsay, I am a Mum to three beautiful children, Finley who is five, Henry who should have been three and Charlotte who is almost two. I live in Essex with my Husband and work as a Speech and Language Therapist and I am also a volunteer trustee for Aching Arms.
On the following Tuesday I had a bit of a tummy and back ache, so the Maternity Assessment Unit asked me to come in. I waited for two and a half hours before being called in for an assessment. I was on my own and was seen by a registrar. He examined me and said ‘your cervix is three and a half centimeters dilated and the membranes are bulging, your baby is coming, he will die and there is nothing we will do to save him, we are transferring you to the labour ward’ He then left. They then took me to the labour ward, through the entrance where all the family members of other women were waiting to start visiting time, with their balloons and teddies. The bereavement suite was full so I was put on the labour ward.
That night my waters broke, my Husband was with me at this time and I was just sobbing and apologising to him. This was terrifying, the midwife told me that as soon as my waters broke Henry would most likely come too. The midwife stayed calm and was honest about her expectations, however once the waters broke the contractions stopped. Henry was still fine but they told me I would have to be induced the next day.
That night the bottom fell out of my world. I felt completely alone, lost and in complete devastation. Even now two and a half years on I re-live every detail of that day on a constant loop and I still cannot fully emotionally digest what has happened.
12 weeks after Henry’s birth I met with the bereavement consultant and midwife. The tests performed on the umbilical cord and my test results were inconclusive. They could not tell me what the infection was, where it had come from or why it had induced labour. There were not any answers to our questions. They thought that it probably wouldn’t happen again but they also didn’t think that it was going to happen with Henry.
At about five weeks of pregnancy I started bleeding. I was terrified. It was tricky as no one would see me. The Doctors response was ‘well if you are losing the baby there isn’t anything we can do’ and I just desperately wanted to know what was happening, not having to wait and see. We had difficulty getting a coordinated care approach. The ‘typical’ midwifery team thought we should be seen by the bereavement team and vice versa. This continued for the first trimester. No one would book in our routine scans or arrange consultant appointments as there wasn’t anyone ultimately responsible for our care. This was a nightmare. I felt that I was constantly chasing appointments and trying to sort things out. It was so stressful. I managed to get an early scan at nine weeks to reassure me that everything was fine and then our routine scan at 12 weeks. At 12 weeks the routine blood tests showed I had an infection – my blood ran cold, the fear was too much. Luckily the midwife was amazing and gave me a prescription straight away.
At 14 weeks I received a call from the Head of Fetal Medicine at Kings College and he had heard about the unusual circumstances of Henry’s birth. He wanted to be involved in my care and wanted to see me every two weeks and do every test possible to make sure that it didn’t happen again. He turned out to be mine and my Rainbow’s saviour.
Every two weeks I attended my Friday afternoon appointments and I loved them. It was the only time in my pregnancy that I could relax and know that for that split second that everything was ok. He carried out cervix scans, infection swabs and full baby scans at every appointment. I hated sitting in the waiting room though. I couldn’t bear listening to the pregnant ladies complaining about how uncomfortable they were or how they just wanted their baby out. I really had to bite my tongue; they did not know how lucky they were to be having routine scans and to have that wonderful naivety of pregnancy.
I remained completely detached throughout my entire pregnancy. Everyone was much more excited for me than I was. I had to protect myself, I knew that if I lost another baby I would not survive it. Really until they showed me my Rainbow I would not allow myself to think that I was bringing a baby home. It was such a lonely time, people around me acted as if now that I was expecting again everything was ok, so I felt that I needed to fight to keep Henry remembered and it was so frustrating that they all seemed so blasé.
I was paranoid that whole time, determined that something was going to go wrong. I spent a lot of time in the assessment centre, with reduced fetal movements, suspected chicken pox, worries about infection. My poor rainbow was the most prodded and poked baby!
Due to the hospital transfer I had routine blood tests done again and the steroid injections. I finally had my C-Section date booked in for 38 weeks. Two days before this my blood results came back and the hospital called to say that they had found antibodies in my blood that could be affecting the baby and that as soon as the baby was delivered she would need blood tests done. So even right at the end of my pregnancy I couldn’t relax.
When I got home I experienced the start of post-natal depression. I was overwhelmed with all the emotions that I had tried to suppress for the pregnancy and also how much Charlotte resembled Henry. It was too much and the lid fell off the pressure cooker. I started taking antidepressants and had some counselling. I was so thankful that everyone acted so quickly to give me the help I needed as it meant that I didn’t miss out on her first few weeks.
Now almost a year on I still think and grieve for Henry every day but Charlotte and my eldest Son Finley are my joy and I know how very lucky I am to have them here with me. I am actually grateful for every time I have to get up in the night – I have a child to get up to. I am one of the lucky ones, not only do I have Finley and Charlotte keeping me busy, but Henry has taught me how to truly appreciate them.