As part of baby loss awareness week 2018 I have been so lucky to have some really inspirational families willing to share their stories of loss and parenting having been blessed to go on to have their rainbow babies.

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 Friday I went for my 20 week scan and everything was perfect, I was having a little brother for Finley.

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.

The following day they found I had an infection and depending on how much the infection had progressed depended on whether or not Henry would have to be delivered.  I had to be induced, the infection was seeping into my bloodstream and I was about to go into sepsis.  Henry was born on the 16th July at midnight.  He was perfect and his heart was still beating.  The midwives were quietly working in the background whilst we had a few precious minutes with our Son.  They then took him away, weighed and measured him, dressed him and took his hand prints.  It meant so much that he was treated as a person and with the dignity he deserved.

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.

I was desperate to get pregnant again, even when I was in the hospital with Henry I just wanted to be pregnant again to fill the aching void.  We started trying as soon as I had healed, however gone was the romantic expectation of trying for a baby.  I constantly took ovulation tests and pregnancy tests to avoid the devastation of not being successful each month.  It was a huge strain on my marriage especially as we were also still grieving in very different ways.  On my sixth cycle I had a positive pregnancy test – finally.  I had about four hours of elation before the dread and fear set in.  Throughout the pregnancy I felt guilty – guilty for being happy about my rainbow, how dare I be happy when I have lost Henry, but guilty for not being happy as my new baby deserved to be celebrated too.  This was a constant throughout my pregnancy.

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!

Getting past 21 weeks was a huge mental hurdle for me.  It was hard as there wasn’t a cut off point where by I could relax.  It wasn’t as if I could think if we get past a certain scan then everything will be ok, or if this test is ok then I can relax.  I was proved right when at my 22 week appointment the scan revealed that I was again three centimetres dilated and could go into labour at any time.  Again my world stopped, I was sure that I was losing my little girl.  My Fetal Medicine Specialist was amazing, he immediately called my Consultant at my local hospital and I was in hospital at 7am the next day waiting for the cervical stitch.  I was terrified, I didn’t move all night for fear of starting labour off.  I cried the whole time waiting for the stitch, I knew the risk of miscarriage from the procedure and I knew the risk of not intervening.  I felt so sorry for myself, how could I go be going through this again?  I had the surgery and stayed on complete bed rest for 48 hours in hospital.  On returning home I had to rest for two weeks.  It was awful, every pain or bleed I was beside myself.  I was lucky, the stitch held.
I continued to see the Fetal Medicine team fortnightly to still have all of the monitoring.  I also continued to see my local consultant.  I was busy with appointments, but I was so happy to be in hospital, I felt safe there.  I was keen to have a plan for the delivery, which was tricky whilst being under two teams, but I had a real need for some control.  During this pregnancy I felt as if I had no control, no control over my body, my care – whilst superb, was out of my hands.  I wanted a plan.  Originally I was going to go to my local consultant for a planned C-Section but during my later appointments I was seen by his registrar which really unnerved me.  So the plan was that I would stay under the care of my local hospital until the last minute.  This was due to me wanting to keep my cervical stitch in until delivery and the risk of going into natural labour with this in place would be an emergency situation, so my local hospital was nearer.  At 36 weeks my care was transferred to the hospital where the Fetal Medicine Consultant was registered.

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.

On the 14th October my gorgeous rainbow Charlotte Hope was delivered by a controlled and planned C-Section.  She was healthy and beautiful.  The relief I felt when she was delivered was so extreme I could not stop sobbing.  I had a wonderful couple of days in the hospital bonding with my Daughter.

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.

If you have connected with this story and you would like some support yourself, you can follow me, Helen Grimshaw, on social media by clicking the links below
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