by Lyndsey Spiers
The pregnancy was textbook. We’d painted the spare room and dug out the family heirloom cradle in preparation for our new arrival. I was overdue, so we were booked in for an induction and on the morning I passed a little blood in the shower, but I wasn’t worried.
At the hospital they were concerned that the baby may have passed meconium, so I was taken to the delivery ward for monitoring. Our little one’s heart rate kept dipping and they repeatedly tried to put an electrode on her head, without success.
Around lunchtime it dropped again and that’s when everything changed. I was whisked off for a C-section and the baby was delivered within six minutes of me being knocked out.
She had to be resuscitated and she’d swallowed meconium, so they rushed her to the special baby unit. They explained that she was quite poorly and that they planned to give her an MRI the next morning to assess the damage.
Kirsty suffered severe seizures in the night, and the next morning they gave my husband the devastating news that she was unlikely to survive and would be severely brain damaged if she did. They suggested we consider withdrawing life support.
We talked and decided that we didn’t want to prolong the suffering. We knew our little girl would have no quality of life and as her parents it was up to us to do what was best for her, no matter how difficult and painful the decision.
At 10pm we went to the special baby ward and they unhooked Kirsty from the machines. She was 33 hours and 22 minutes old when she slipped away in our arms. We crammed so much into that precious 90 minutes; taking pictures, talking to her and cuddling her.
Afterwards I tortured myself with ifs and buts. It was the hardest time, but even on the day of the funeral I wanted to be strong for my child. A post-mortem showed that Kirsty had suffered birth asphyxia. The time without oxygen and ingesting the meconium had suffocated her organs.
The only thought that kept me going was getting pregnant again, without that to hang on to I don’t know what would have happened to me
We lost Kirsty in April and I fell pregnant again in September. I was absolutely terrified throughout my pregnancy. Therefore, I continued with the grief counselling I’d had since losing Kirsty. It was a lifeline.
Lucy arrived, weighing 8 lb 3 oz by elective C-section at 39 weeks. I couldn’t have gone through labour, it would have brought everything back. It was very emotional and we were in floods of tears, including some of the staff.
I’d confessed to my counsellor my fears that I wouldn’t bond with this baby. I’d put Kirsty on a pedestal and feared that I wouldn’t have the same love for this child, but all those worries flowed away as soon as Lucy was in my arms.
Sadly my Dad passed away in 2007. I don’t think he ever recovered from seeing me so heartbroken, so I put off trying again until the following year.
It wasn’t until the end of 2009 that I fell pregnant, but I never felt pregnant and two scans failed to find a heartbeat. The baby never formed.
We started trying again and by June I fell pregnant but, again, I didn’t feel right. I had some spotting in my underwear and sure enough at 8 weeks, a scan revealed that there was no heartbeat.
These miscarriages were such a different type of grief, opening up wounds that were barely just covered. To know that there's life inside you and then not, is heartbreaking
By the end of 2010 I was pregnant again and a 6-week-scan showed a heartbeat, but just four weeks later another scan showed that that tiny heartbeat had stopped. This third miscarriage really broke my spirit and I told John that I couldn’t take any more loss. But, there was still a sense of emptiness and a longing to complete my family.
My GP referred me to a miscarriage clinic but all tests came back clear. When I missed my period in the summer of 2012 I didn’t even notice as my daughter, Lucy, had been very poorly with chicken pox.
A 6-week-scan showed a clear heartbeat and I was given progesterone pessaries to try and sustain the pregnancy. I experienced repeated bleeding, which the doctors discovered were blood sacs in my womb that were passing through me. I was terrified, I took three months off work and literally laid on the sofa resting.
Then at 12 weeks the bleeding stopped but the fear didn’t go away. It wasn’t an enjoyable pregnancy, every landmark felt like a constant reminder, every scan I was afraid that they’d tell me my baby had died. Sophie was born at 38 weeks by elective C-section and as soon as she arrived I felt complete.
Losing a child makes you feel a failure as a woman, like you’ve let everyone down. After Kirsty died I remember apologising to everyone. My mum had retired so she could help care for her and my dad had bought a bigger car. I just felt like I’d put all this misery on so many people.
I have a wonderful husband, but the loss and grief still left me feeling so alone. That’s why Tommy’s #misCOURAGE campaign is so important in encouraging discussion about baby loss. Yes, it’s uncomfortable but so is cancer and yet we talk about that. That secrecy enrages me.
I became a Sands befriender because I wanted women to know that there's hope after losing a child. It’s my legacy for my daughter; helping others to learn to live with their loss.
We mark Kirsty’s birthday in April every year. She was made of love, a real living person that I held in my arms and I miss her every day. I feel lucky to be a mum to two beautiful and healthy girls, but I will never forget my Kirsty or the three babies I never got to meet.
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