Like thousands of other frightened parents, we had to choose to let our baby go

Sara-Jayne's heartbreaking story of baby loss follows her difficult decision to end her pregnancy when her baby son was not developing normally.

Tommy's guest blog, 13/08/2017, by Sara-Jayne

I'm Sara-Jayne. I'm 36. I have 9 children and an angel baby, Alex, born on Feb 8th this year.

Although he left for heaven on Feb 5th, I got to carry my boy through the hardest 3 days of my life and stay strong for my other children. We had made it to 30 weeks and had been diagnosed at our 20 week anomaly scan with a serious brain abnormality.

We suddenly, overnight, like hundreds and thousands of other frightened parents, found ourselves on a journey contemplating letting our baby go, the meaning of quality of life, the “what ifs” either way, comprehending a devastating diagnosis, and the harsh reality of terminating our pregnancy.

Our so wanted baby. Our son.

I spent hours and hours reading into the night searching for hope and other families that had walked my path before me. So I could find answers, so I could save not just my boy, but myself too from a nightmare I didn't ask for. We chose to continue blindly, not knowing what the future weeks held or if our boy could stay, but he needed vital time to develop further.

As the next 10 weeks passed hope started to vanish. As more and more of his tiny, beautiful brain became visibly more and more malformed. He was suffering seizures already by the time of the 2nd MRI. We knew that part of his diagnosis would mean that he would never develop past 5 months mentally, that he would never know who we were, and suffer terribly.

Our other children would watch him suffer violent seizures 20 times a day and die in childhood from one of them. That was just too much for this mum to bear for all of them, Alex included. My boy would only ever know my voice, my love, my hope, warmth.

Instead of life, we gave him peace. And I, as his protector, died inside that day too.

Since he left us, we have encountered so many other families that have had the horrific choice no parent should ever have to make. I’ve supported women as they do what nobody ever told us anyone had to face! I’ve read countless stories of these so wanted babies leaving us because their parents loved them so much that they couldn't watch them suffer in the hundreds of ways babies are malformed.

Yet the stories we read in the media of baby loss are of natural miscarriage, natural stillborns, natural SIDS. What about our babies? Why does nobody share how wanted and loved our children were? Our stories of absolute devastation and heartbreak? How we will never, ever, be who we once were after doing what we did.

No, it's not everyone's choice.

God, even I was anti-abortion - until I had to wear those shoes and decide for my child. Why are we left to feel like our babies didn't matter as much as babies lost naturally at 8,10,12 weeks? My son mattered as much as every one of all of my 10 babies. His birth and death was just as profound and devastating.

There is a shocking lack of awareness on this kind of baby loss. People (myself included before this happened to me) had no idea that mums still give birth to their baby, what we have to actually 'do' to let them go. And then carry for the rest of our lives, seemingly in silence.

There is one national charity that supports women and families through this. One. I have not contacted them until now, and find it shocking at the lack of support before the actual loss of life, through the decision making process. And then afterwards.

Bereavement midwives are few and far between and shockingly over stretched.

Statistic reports done by one organisation highlight how many women, still, in 2016, are giving birth next door to live babies on delivery suite due to lack of separate facilities for stillborn babies. I can only imagine how traumatic that is. Never mind the 3 day wait to actually give birth like we had to wait - at home.

Like nothing abnormal was going on.

Alex is and always will be, as loved and wanted as every baby shared on this page. As is every baby that left to go to heaven because their parents didn't want them to face the harsh cruel judgemental world we live in.

Read more about coping after baby loss here

Read more about commemorating your baby here

If you need support in coping with your loss, you can call and speak to one of Tommy’s midwives on our free PregnancyLine, available 9am – 5pm from Monday to Friday 0800 0147 800.

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