We can’t hold our daughter in our arms, but we’ll always hold her in our hearts

Katie and her wife Stacey were delighted when Katie became pregnant after a round of IVF in 2017. At 36 weeks, Katie went into hospital, believing she was in labour and was given the devastating news that their baby’s heart had stopped beating. Their baby Skye was stillborn that evening.

My wife Stacey and I got married in June 2016. We’d been together for 8 years and had always talked about having children. As soon as we returned from our honeymoon we went to our GP and started our journey towards becoming parents.

Starting the IVF process 

My wife had always made it clear that she had no intention of being pregnant, which worked out well as I had always wanted to carry our baby. After months of waiting lists, different appointments and various tests, we started our IVF treatment in November 2017.

We hadn’t told our family. We’d only confided in a close friend and, of course, our managers at work – to support us with time off for appointments.

Wonderful news

In December 2017 we were thrilled to find out that the IVF was a success and I was pregnant.

We managed to hide our pregnancy from friends and work colleagues until I had passed the supposedly ‘safe stage’ of 12 weeks, we were then really excited to share the news with all of our friends with the obligatory ‘we’re expecting’ social media post.

We were overwhelmed with the support and well wishes that we received and as the weeks and months past, my bump grew bigger and bigger.

We took endless pictures and videos of my bump, and we turned our spare room into a nursery. We had everything ready to become parents.

My bump was measuring small

I had regular midwife appointments throughout and a final appointment with our consultant. At this stage the consultant referred me for a growth scan as he measured my tummy to be small.

At the scan, they confirmed that all was well, they said the baby just had short legs – this wasn’t really a concern as I am only 4’10” myself.

A few days later, I woke up at 5am and felt like my bladder was being used as a bouncy castle – this wasn’t unusual as I was 36 weeks pregnant and quite used to hourly toilet trips in the night. I went back to bed and felt the baby moving with hiccups – again this was normal for my pregnancy. But later that day, we went to our local supermarket and I started to get pains, which continued when we got home.

The words no one should hear

Stacey phoned the hospital and they said to take our hospital bag and to come in to be checked. We arrived there about 30 minutes later, by which point the pains had got increasingly worse, so I was seen straight away.

I lay on the bed whilst the midwife placed some gel and the doppler on my tummy, but she struggled to find the heartbeat.

At all my previous appointments, the heartbeat was found instantly and was always really strong, so I instantly knew something was seriously wrong. I was rushed through to another room for a scan with a consultant and then the devastating news was confirmed, ‘I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat’.

Giving birth to our angel

From this point onwards, it’s quite a blur. I think my body went into shock and blocked out some of the awful memories. Although I was begging for a c-section to try and save the baby, I remember being told I had to be induced and deliver naturally as my own health was at risk.

A few hours later, I gave birth to the most beautiful angel, our daughter – Skye Tushingham-Wright.

Skye weighed 5lb and half an ounce, she had black curly hair and a little button nose. She was the image of my dad. She looked so perfect and peaceful, as if she was asleep. We begged her to cry and scream, just to prove that the doctors were wrong, but she didn’t.

We spent 3 nights in a special butterfly suite for bereaved parents. We held her, cuddled her, sang to her and played lullabies. We were able to bath and dress her and make memories in our short time together. Skye is now sleeping in the baby cemetery, alongside many other angel babies.

Life after loss 

My wife and I are slowly rebuilding our lives and trying to find our new ‘normal’. We’re still mummies, but we hold our daughter in our heart, not in our arms.

There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of Skye and wonder what she would be like and all the milestones she would’ve reached – first smile, sitting up alone, first tooth – the list is endless.

Our days are getting easier. We still have really bad days, but these are less frequent now. Being back at work is helping me to get back into a routine and have something to focus on. We are fortunate to have a great support network outside of work. I cannot praise my managers and colleagues enough for their support.

As a result of our tragic loss, some people will cross the road to avoid talking to us, they just don’t know what to say. And while the truth is, there really are no words.

Our daughter may have been stillborn, but she was still born.