That feeling won't ever leave me

I know there was nothing I could have done, but it was my job to keep them safe.

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#misCOURAGE story, 02/03/2017, by Alanna

My first pregnancy was rocky, I bled on and off with my daughter until about 18 weeks when I spent the night in hospital. During that time it was discovered I had a bicornuate uterus, a heart shaped womb. 

Though I was worried, I was blissfully naive, I was pregnant I was past the magical 12 weeks- everything would be ok. And it was, I had a perfect birth in a pool and felt everything a woman should feel after birth- strong, powerful, courageous.

I wanted my babies close together, so we started trying again, I fell with Zachary when she was 18 months. When I was five weeks I woke up with massive cramping and bleeding, along to the hospital for a scan which revealed a blighted ovum, he had been a twin. 

Sad but feeling that I was blessed to still have a baby I went on to bleed three more times, each time we saw a heart beat and I passed the magical 12 weeks with no more bleeding. 

Christmas was coming up and we were desperate to know the sex of our new baby, we booked a private scan at 17 weeks with the intention of telling family over Christmas dinner.

Only our hearts were broken, the screen showed a tiny baby but no movements, no flutters.

The sonographer turned the monitor off quickly and told us she was sorry. Chris didn't understand, he was shouting 'no, are you sure?' 'What do you mean?'

Sophia was with us, not yet two and getting upset because her parents were loosing it. We left shell shocked and made our way to the hospital, dropping Sophia off at my mums on the way.

Zachary was delivered on the 22nd of December, we had a small blessing by his bedside and cremated him on the 25th of January in a small service. 

We had the all clear from his post mortem results and knew we needed to try again, there was a massive hole in our hearts, we had created all this hope and love for a baby that was no longer with us.

Sophia pulled us through and we fell pregnant in the August of that year. 

Frightened, but optimistic. 

Things progressed as they had with my two previous pregnancies bleeding & scans, but a lot more worry this time.

We got past 17 weeks and I admit I breathed a little easier, at 20 weeks we found out we were having a boy and it seemed as though we were getting a second chance, that our family was to be complete.

I passed 25 weeks, which I now held to be the new magical point as baby is viable at 25 weeks, they can save a baby then. 

30 weeks and I started to feel reduced movements, frightened I went up to the hospital. They monitored me and everything looked OK, baby was growing fine, I was ok.

Everyone friends, family and professionals alike told me it was normal to be so paranoid after a loss but I needed to be positive.

32 weeks came and I woke up in labour, unprepared and half asleep we packed a bag. My mum came to watch Sophia and we drove up to the hospital, the contractions were coming fast, I couldn't take my boots off. I lay on the bed, my heart pounding. 

The Doppler could only find my heart.

I remember panicking, looking at the midwife who knew but wouldn't tell me, at Chris who told me not to panic, to wait for the scan.

I walked along to the next room in my bare feet feeling like the floor was falling away underneath me. The monitor showed a motionless baby, no flutters where the heart should have been beating, I knew.

I shouted at them to tell me 'he's gone isn't he', 'yes' they said. 'I'm so sorry'. 

I howled, I remember thrashing at the bed and the doctors just standing there. Chris shouted at them to leave and I pounded at his chest screaming why and apologising over and over. I had let us all down again, I had failed. That feeling won't ever leave me.

I know there was nothing I could have done, but it was my job to keep them safe. My body failed me. 

Theo's labour was different. I went into it not wanting to let go of him, my contractions had come to a complete halt after I found out he had gone.

I was induced but every surge hurt twice as much with the pain of knowing I was letting him go, I could still feel him. I felt him for days after he was born, phantom kicks they are called.

He was perfect, Zachary looked as through he wouldn't have survived, he was so tiny and frail. Theo was a big, soft beautiful baby.

Dark hair that would have turned blonde, beautiful lips and massive feet like his dad. I refused to let them do a post mortem on his little body.

The weeks that followed were a blur, we had a bigger funeral this time with more family and a few friends. But to me it was the same, like an awful repetition. Same tiny white casket, same crematorium, same chaplain. Even the same driver of the hearse who was so gentle when he told me his heart had sunk as he drove around the corner to our house and realised it was us again.

I just remember feeling 'why me?' What had I done to deserve this. Why me when I took every step to look after myself? 

Theo's placenta was found to be heavily clotted, so he wasn't getting what he needed. Although he was perfect in size, had they done a postmortem his organs would likely show that they had suffered. 

Within two months I was pregnant again. It was planned in a sense that it was the only thing I wanted, to be pregnant again. What I hadn't planned for was actually being pregnant.

I was terrified, frozen in fear and anxiety. The doctors prescribed aspirin to thin the blood and I focused on that being the only active change I could make.

But now, all naivety had gone, I knew there was no safety net. At any moment this baby could be taken too. We took it day by day, I focused on Sophia she needed me to keep functioning for her so I did.

I woke up each morning and counted off another day and went to bed each night and forced myself to think of three positives that had happened that day. Finding gratitude in the smallest of things helped me to keep going. 

We made a plan, if I got to 37 weeks we would deliver by c section, after feeling so empowered by Sophia's labour I was now a completely different woman.

I had been closer to death in life than it is possible to be. I had delivered death, carried death inside me, not once but twice. 

It got to the morning of our section and I still didn't believe I would have a baby in my arms. All I wanted was to hear a cry, I was told section babies don't always cry so don't be alarmed.

I was operated on and there it was, the most beautiful sound I had ever heard, my son crying. He was here, he was alive, he was a boy. 

We named him Ruben meaning- an unexpected son, our unexpected miracle.

Leaving the hospital without your baby is unbearable, leaving with a baby after loss is bittersweet. Everything about having a baby after loss is bittersweet.

All the moments that you should have had with your angel babies pass by, milestones and achievements always tinged with a bit of sadness. 

I would like to say I was brave to keep going after loss, but it was my broken heart that kept me going, a lingering pain a longing ache to hold a living baby and a desire to complete my family. However I know it will never be complete, we will always be missing two.

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Disclaimer

Please note that the opinions expressed by users in Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE are solely those of the user, who is unlikely to have had medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Tommy’s and are not advice from Tommy's. Reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. We strongly advise readers not to take drugs that are not prescribed by your qualified healthcare provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately. Read full disclaimer

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