When you give birth to a stillborn you understand the power of that word

Dorothée had 6 rounds of IVF in 3 years before she had her daughter. Keen to give Victoria a sibling, she underwent IVF again but suffered a miscarriage, then the loss of her son, Arthur. Dorothée lives in London with husband Philippe and Victoria.

Our first IVF journey

We married in 2006 with dreams of a family but it has been a path fraught with challenges.

We started trying in 2008 but, a year later, started IVF on medical advice after tests, which came as a shock as we were both under 30. 

Nobody around me was in that same situation so I did feel very alone but I began with a lot of hope, doctors were confident that, at my age, I would be pregnant soon.

After the first round fails, you move on to the second but when that fails too you start to realise it’s not going to be an easy journey. In all we had 6 rounds over 3 years which was really tough. Your whole life revolves around IVF and, although my husband was supportive, it’s a very female experience, you do the treatment alone.

I got pregnant with the sixth round in February 2012. Doctors warned me to be careful but I felt sure, after going through 6 rounds of IVF, I would have this baby. 

I was lucky, my waters broke at 37 weeks and I had to have a c-section but it all went fine. 6 years after our wedding we finally had our baby, our beautiful daughter.

Trying for a sibling

In 2013 we started trying for a sibling for Victoria. After more failed cycles I fell pregnant in 2015 but miscarried at 7 weeks due to a haematoma which was devastating.

I wanted to keep going because I so wanted a little brother or sister for our daughter. I got pregnant again in 2017 with my twelfth IVF and, this time, at 37 and having suffered a loss, I was a little more fragile, more cautious.

We had a lot of scans in those first weeks and all was well but at 11 weeks I started bleeding in the night. On the way to hospital I felt sure I was having a miscarriage but blood tests and a scan the following day showed baby was perfectly fine which was such a relief.

They found a haematoma so we had to be cautious, I went on sick leave from work and had to rest. Scans every 2 weeks showed baby developing well but I was bleeding so much I couldn’t quite believe I was still pregnant. 

I spent those weeks not knowing if baby was alive or not, just waiting and hoping.

At 20 weeks a scan showed the haematoma had started to decrease and I was bleeding less so it felt more hopeful. Baby was developing well and we learned we were having a boy so felt we could start getting ready to welcome our son.

A painful decision

Just a few days later, I thought my waters had broken in the night so I called the hospital and they said to come in. They examined me, doctors confirmed this devastating news and told me that I’d have to give birth. My obstetrician was away on holiday, the medical team didn’t know my IVF journey but I told them I wouldn’t give birth, I wouldn’t give up, so they admitted me.

I stayed at the hospital for 2 weeks, monitored every day. Baby was okay, a strong heartbeat, but there was almost no water and the doctor said that there was a high risk of infection which would be very dangerous for me. They also said that, even if baby made it to 25 weeks, he may well have a lot of health problems and would probably die.

It was such a tough decision but I had to think of Victoria when it came to taking risks with my own health. As a couple we made the difficult choice to terminate the pregnancy.

Our beloved Arthur

I gave birth to our beloved son Arthur on August 12 2017, we had an amazing team, an obstetrician who was so empathetic. 

When you give birth to a stillborn you understand the power of that word, you’re giving birth but there’s only silence, stillness.

We named him Arthur because Victoria had told us she wanted a brother called Arthur.

My husband and I spent 2 hours with Arthur. We took lots of pictures, one of us with him and a picture of Victoria so we’d have one photo of the 4 of us. We needed those memories of him.

Arthur's hand and footprints on a certificate

That time with him was so important but so short, they said we could stay as long as we wanted but it was never going to be long enough.
Leaving the hospital without him was so tough and we struggled enormously to tell our daughter the horrible news. She was just 5 years old and expecting so much her little brother.

At first, we told her he was an angel and she’d always draw us as a family of 4, but she was only little, she didn’t really understand. One day, when she was 9, she got upset because she wanted to see her brother so we explained everything and she understood and, I think, felt more at peace with it. We still celebrate his birthday every year with balloons.

Running for Arthur

I wish I’d been aware of Tommy’s at that time, but it was 9 months later when I found them. I was looking at doing a half marathon to raise money. I’d ran 5k so 22k was a challenge but it helped with my grief, knowing that all the training, all the running was for Arthur.

A year after losing Arthur I completed my first half-marathon. I remember going to the Tommy’s tent after that first run and just crying, I think it was the first time I’d really cried for Arthur. 

It’s also the day I decided to become a part of this community of women who have lost babies.

I raised over £5k for Tommy’s that day and have gone on to do other runs since. It’s so important to me to raise funds, to raise awareness, it’s become my mission.

I fought two battles, IVF and loss. With Tommy’s I found a real sense of solace in reading other peoples’ stories, in knowing I was not alone. The research they do is amazing and I know that the money I’ve raised will help. 

It’s important to me to help others, it’s a way for me to channel my grief, to do something positive. It’s Arthur’s legacy.