It didn’t even cross my mind that we would lose a baby, as mother of five, including our swan Nellie. I feel like I’m very realistic about life but no one is prepared for that until it happens.
We found out we were expecting baby number six at four weeks – the same day that the schools finished due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It felt somewhat perfect that amongst all the tragedy we were all home together with the outside world shut out, it was just us and our little secret.
There was no private early scan for reassurance due to lockdown restrictions and all initial midwife and booking appointments were held over the phone.
At 12 weeks I attended hospital alone for my dating scan. There I saw a little heart beating away and was surprised to find out I was two weeks further along. I came home to a husband and five excited faces – we looked at the scan photos of our baby and made plans.
In the weeks that followed, our growing baby kept us all occupied during the monotony of lockdown – online shopping, gender guessing and name suggestions. Now passed the socially acceptable point of 12 weeks and we shared our news with our family and friends.
On 30 June while Peter was in work the children busied themselves making pink and blue posters for later that night when they would celebrate the news of getting a new brother or sister – something they wouldn’t get. I once again went to the hospital alone promising Peter I would get the baby’s gender written down and placed in an envelope for us to open together, something we could share in this pregnancy.
I will never forget hearing the words: ‘I’m having difficulty finding your baby’s heartbeat’ and I will never forget the moment I had to tell Peter our news – me at the hospital alone and him at home with our five children.
I returned home and Peter told our two older boys (aged 15 and 12) the sad news while telling our little ones that the scan could not be done today. How do you tell your children something like this? How do you even start to explain this to a child with extra needs? Nellie handed me notes before bed which I had to take, open and thank her for – notes saying ‘even though I’m disappointed never mind Mum you can just have the scan on a different day.’
We remained in the security of our bubble in a kind of calm until 4 July when we went back to the hospital. Our baby girl was born sleeping at 23:22
I have never felt a pain greater than going into the maternity hospital carrying my baby and then 24 hours later leaving empty armed – nothing can prepare you for the utter feeling of emptiness. Then having to break the news to our family and friends (including sharing within the SWAN UK Facebook group) was so difficult – you become so conscious of other people’s feelings and situations while still grieving and consoling each other. The support we received was incredible and we felt truly blessed to be surrounded (from a distance) by so much love.
Lockdown once again provided us with quality time together, it gave us the peace and isolation we needed.
Some things day to day heighten the loss like our youngest starting nursery, which made me think ‘now what am I suppose to do?’. We are still waiting for post-mortem and genetic results so this chapter isn’t closed yet and with a nine-year-old undiagnosed child in the genetic system we understand we may be left waiting for nothing. I think of our baby every day and don’t think that will ever change. She was and always will be part of us. You become a different person and it takes awhile to accept this. Baby Loss Awareness Week is a time to remember and raise some much needed awareness.