Late miscarriage, grieving differently and accommodating grief

Saloni Anand, 37, lost her son, Aari, at 22.3 weeks. Saloni lives in Buckinghamshire with husband Amit, 36 and son Ryan, 4.

I fell pregnant the year after we married, we’d always wanted children. Ryan arrived at 36.2 weeks, I’d been fully dilated and delivering but had to have an emergency caesarean when he became distressed.

By 2020 we were ready to add to our family, I fell pregnant in May. The first trimester was rough, I was really sick and then had a couple of bleeds at around 8 or 9 weeks but private scans showed everything was fine. We had a harmony test at 10 weeks where we discovered we were having another boy, then the NHS 12 week scan which went smoothly.

I started feeling movement with this one at around 17 weeks

A few weeks earlier than I did with Ryan. It was around 22 weeks when I mentioned to my husband I felt like his movement had slowed and wanted to get it checked. I assumed I was being over-cautious, that everything would be fine, I’d even made plans for later that day.

The doctor did a speculum check and, at that point, said that my cervix was really short and I could go into labour at any time. My local hospital wasn’t equipped for such a premature birth so they rushed me to Oxford.

Even then I tried to remain positive, I’d heard stories of early birth but I told myself that it wouldn’t happen to me.

They’d told me my cervix was short after having Ryan and I’d repeatedly asked if it should be checked during this pregnancy but always told it did not. I’ve since been told research suggests that women who fully dilate then have a c-section have a higher chance of miscarriage in subsequent pregnancies.

At the hospital they scanned me and confirmed that my cervix was short and they didn’t even want to measure it in case it disrupted things. They discussed putting in an emergency stitch but were worried that would break my waters so decided to monitor me, to wait and see. I remember asking doctors what that meant but nobody could really say, it could be a few hours or a few weeks.

I was too scared to even go to the loo

They brought in a commode and the nurse was with me every time I needed it. My husband couldn’t stay because of Covid but I was glad because it meant one of us could be with Ryan.

The midwife mentioned my pulse was high then on the morning of October 15 the doctor said they were worried about it because it could be the first sign of infection. I told them I felt completely fine, could feel my son kicking away, and asked if we could keep monitoring. But when the foetal medicine doctor came in soon after she said that it would be unsafe for me to continue the pregnancy, that this infection went from 0 to 100 really quickly and that, because the infection was in the womb, the only way to clear it up was to empty the womb.

At that point the only option was delivery, they talked through statistics that nobody wants to hear, chances of him surviving, chances of severe illness if he did.

My husband and I had to decide whether to terminate our son inside me then give birth.

We talked it over and over and, in the end, decided we didn’t want to make a decision and regret it later, we’d just see what happened.

A few hours later they induced me and it was really quick

Then the doctor whispered, ‘He didn’t survive labour’.

We knew there was a high chance that would happen. I was on lots of medication but I remember holding him, looking at him and feeling so peaceful. Then I fell asleep while my husband held him in his arms.

They took castings of his hands and feet and put them in a memory box with his blanket and his little hat.

We were in the bereavement suite and they brought him to us whenever we asked which, again, was calm and peaceful. We were glad we got to spend that quality time with him.

Leaving him was so hard

We left with a box, not our child and that felt very wrong.

Going home to Ryan was such a mix of emotions, he gave me purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.

We had to plan a funeral and, as Hindus, normally you cremate when someone passes away but we spoke to a few priests who told us that you can bury children because their souls are so pure they go where they’re meant to go.

But it was difficult, we put little things in his casket, a picture of us, a toy car and a little heart that matched another that we still have. It was really hard but it was our final goodbye.

We started counselling after that and it was amazing. I’d blocked out the pain but I realised I needed to connect with Aari so that I could look back with love.

We hadn’t opened the memory box for fear of the emotions it would bring and when we did there were tears.

Amit and I have grieved differently

He looks at a photograph of Aari and feels proud of his son whereas that same picture make me sad, a reminder of what we don’t have. I look back to the moment I delivered him and felt so much love. I feel proud that we even got to meet him.

People said the pain never goes away and that worried me, the thought that I’d never feel happiness again, but I’m now accommodating my grief, it comes in waves but it feels more manageable. 

Aari was born on October 15, in Baby Loss Awareness Week and he was due on Valentine’s Day, a day about love, I hold on to little things like that.

I opened an Instagram account and shared how I felt because, I believe, sharing our stories makes us feel less alone. I want to break the silence, the taboo around miscarriage because it’s so important to talk about our grief.

We did a fundraiser virtual quiz for Tommy’s and we plan to do more. I also keep a gratitude journal because, when you lose someone it’s important to remember what you have. I’m so grateful for Ryan because I know you can’t take having a baby for granted. These things are helping me channel my energy and grief into something positive, that’s Aari’s legacy for me.