It’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog recently, I’ve still been writing but I just haven’t been able to find the courage to post anything. After a bit of reflection, I think I just got a bit bogged down in worrying about other peoples thoughts. I was concerned that what I was saying wasn’t really reaching the audience it was intended for and instead my friends and acquaintances were being bombarded with ‘sob stories’ about how the unimaginable happened and my baby died. So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record and putting myself on the receiving end of negativity, I lost my nerve and stopped. Then, totally out of the blue, a near stranger reminded me of my motives with just three simple words and those words lead me straight back here.
“You helped me”
We were two strangers on a hen party, there was plenty of Prosecco, a Motown party boat and all the cheesy tunes a group of girls could ever want, the perfect ingredients for a memorable night out. Hannah’s words that evening made it a truly unforgettable one for me because her story is forever linked with mine, thanks to Alex. Hannah has very kindly agreed for me to share her story in her own words below:
“I was three days from my due date, my Mum had come to Norwich to stay for the birth and we went out for food. I had the most sugar laden milkshake it is possible to drink and my Mum said something like he must be going mad in there. It obviously played on my mind a little as he wasn’t going as crazy as I would have expected him too. The next morning, I didn’t feel 100% about him so I had some orange juice, also normally a kicker and he didn’t respond too much. So we went up to the hospital for monitoring. It took them a little while to get him to react, seemed like he was asleep, but then the monitoring was fine and they said to come back if I still didn’t feel right. By the evening I still wasn’t happy so we went back and although the measurements were ok again, the consultant said it was unusual for someone to come in twice in one day and so close to my due date it just wasn’t worth the risk, so I opted for induction.
When my waters broke on the morning of my due date there was a sudden emergency as he had pooped and I think it was quite dark so on the more serious end of the scale. Essentially everything was fine prior to that as they were able to monitor him through delivery but when my waters broke Aaron was told to throw all our bags on the bed and then they literally ran with the bed through to a delivery suite where about 7 or 8 doctors were waiting for us, it was very scary.
I had seen your posts through Steph’s Facebook and as a result of that, the Kicks Count page and I was definitely more conscious of Charlies movement as a result. I’m not sure what I would have done if I wasn’t aware because he was still moving, just not as much. I may have convinced myself because he was moving that everything was fine, but of course I’ll never know how many more days I would have gone before labour started naturally and what that might have meant for him. So I am eternally grateful to you”
I was already feeling teary before our conversation, since losing Alex I always do in those types of situations and even more so when I’m without Rob. I think it’s mostly because I’m anxious in anticipation of the questions I might face. I dread having to be the one who brings a joyful, celebratory mood crashing down by mentioning my Son who died in response to a perfectly innocent question such as ‘how many children do you have?’ Tears instantly stung my eyes on hearing those words and as is often the case since our loss I was faced with two totally opposing emotions. My night had been made and also ruined in one fell swoop. There were tears of sadness, that I didn’t get to bring my baby home like Hannah did but there were also tears of incredible pride and happiness; pride for Alex and the incredible legacy he is leaving and happiness that two more parents didn’t have to suffer the pain that we did.
And there it was, like a lighthouse in dark stormy seas, my reason – awareness. Creating awareness and potentially saving a baby’s life is one of the vitally important reasons behind my blog and it took those words to remind me that it’s a much, much higher cause than my superficial worries about other people’s thoughts.
I know anything relating to stillbirth doesn’t exactly make for light bedtime reading whilst pregnant. I’ve been there and I could barely face listening to a difficult birth story let alone stories of babies not making it through pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy bought out the hippy earth mother in me and I lived out all three of my pregnancies in the blissful ignorance that I would have perfect natural labours where I would be home within a few hours. I look back now in total disbelief at my ignorance and naivety. Educating ourselves about risks will not ruin our pregnancy or give us a difficult labour, quite the opposite in fact as it could potentially save your baby. In my younger, wilder days I sky dived and before doing so I was thoroughly briefed on the risks involved and the correct procedures to follow to avoid them. It didn’t ruin my experience in the slightest, knowing the risks and how to avoid them kept me safe whilst still being able to thoroughly enjoy the experience (after the initial being thrown out of a plane bit!). And that is all I am asking for pregnant women to do, as Mothers we should take some of the responsibility to educate ourselves about the risks and warning signs to enjoy a healthy and safe pregnancy. Keeping an eye on Alex’s movements was mentioned very briefly by my midwife but the importance of why was never stressed enough and the consequences weren’t mentioned at all. Regrets and what ifs are the things which hurt the most, I can’t help but wonder if there could have been a different end to our story if I had learnt more about what to look out for and why. Hannah may not have had the perfect birth story but at the end of it she still got to take her baby home and that’s the most important thing.
If you do nothing else today please share this with a pregnant mother and refer them to the Kicks Count & Tommy’s pages for a wealth of resources on a healthy and safe pregnancy. Tommy’s midwives are on hand to answer any questions you may have and always seek professional advice from a doctor or midwife if you are worried no matter how small that worry may seem. You wont be wasting anyone’s time and I can confidently say that a midwife would rather check someone over ten times and find it’s nothing than have to deliver the devastating news that ours did. Knowledge is power, it is vitally important and ultimately, it saves babies lives!
Love Rachel & Alex xxx