Story by Chantelle Willoughby,
My husband and I found out I was first pregnant around 5 weeks. we were over the moon and told our parents and siblings without even thinking about it.
We went for a first scan at 12 weeks we waited in a room full of other expectant parents we were so nervous. when we were called in, we were greeted by a friendly sonographer he was kind to us and began the scan.
It was a vision of heaven seeing our tiny beautiful baby on the screen, my eyes were watering with sheer delight. My husband and I were amazed at how much of a miracle life was.
But then our world was turned upside down.
The sonographer said to us that something didn't seem right with our baby, our hearts just sunk! Over the next few days and weeks I was told to have extra scans and blood tests. They told us our baby may not survive even to 5 months, they told us constantly that I was at risk of miscarriage, getting pre-eclampsia or our baby dying in labour or shortly after birth.
Throughout our pregnancy we were in limbo. we never knew what the outcome was going to be, what our baby's condition was and what he truly had. things changed constantly throughout, some things the doctors had told us became unrelated other new things came to light.
These things and complications we had not heard off before. We felt so raw, we were left to just expect and prepare for the worst outcome of what could be of many combinations.
I had endless appointments with many different professionals, endless scans and injections. I was getting close to full term, we were told our baby's growth was restricted and blood flow was poor. because of this and other complications they told me to prepare for the worst.
On the 18th of March 2018 I had not felt our baby move for 24 hours, my husband drove us the hospital it was snowing and bleak outside.
Inside we waited to be seen, I had a scan and there was no heartbeat, no movement, our baby had died. My husband and I could see on the screen his lifeless body, no movement in his lungs and his heart was still. such sadness came over us in this short moment, we knew it had been coming since our first scan.
We were devastated. I sat there sobbing uncontrollably into my hands, with my husband's arms tightly around me.
It was then I was of the more concern to the doctors. I was told i'd have to go home and come back in two days time to be induced. I went home knowing I had my dead son inside me.
The grief I felt was indescribable. I was told my baby was breech, and the risks involved in giving birth naturally, but the trauma I had already gone through all I wanted was to hold my baby, I didn't care about the risks.
8.5 hours after being induced Gabriel was born on the 20th march weighing only 3lbs.
He was beautiful, sadly because he had been dead for 3 days and having been breech during labour his skin was so delicate it had torn in many places, his skin was also too delicate to touch.
He was born in such a bad way leaving it impossible for us to touch our beautiful baby. The natural feeling of a mother and father wanting to rub your baby's little hand was taken away from us.
We were fearful of hurting him. We only had a very brief moment with him before he was whisked away to have photos taken, and before family arrived to meet him and say goodbye.
My husband and I only had 30 minutes with our son before we kissed his head and said a very sad hello and goodbye for the last time.
Our hearts were full of joy, sadness and defeat. We were heartbroken and felt numb. No matter how much we had prepared ourselves throughout the whole pregnancy, no one could have fully helped us to come to terms with the fact our child was gone.
It all happens in such a quick way, your left with complete emptiness. The weeks after Gabriel's birth, we had endless and unpleasant chores to contend with. registering his stillbirth at the town hall, arranging his cremation and a memorial service. we chose to tidy away Gabriel's things in our home, we couldn't face having them to look at daily it was and still is so raw and painful.
We've had to deal with other peoples emotions that surrounded us. The hardest thing for us is coming to terms with it all. it's only been 6 months since we lost our beautiful boy Gabriel, the one thing that has been consistent throughout is our deep love for him.
HE stole our hearts the moment I found out I was pregnant, the moment we saw his tiny being on the screen, to the moment he was in our arms saying goodbye.
HE will always be in our hearts and our love for him will always grow stronger and stronger. we long for the day we can see our baby again, but in the present we know this is a long way a way.
Until then the grief we are both stung by everyday is exhausting. until you have lost a child, no one can relate to you at all.
Talking about it helps, I have found in this short space of time, talking about our loss helps us to put things into perspective.
It helps us to express our deepest feelings and emotions. Hiding how we feel and not talking about Gabriel only makes it harder for us to cope. He was a life too, he came into this world and brought such sunshine and happiness to our lives, he has changed our family dynamics completely and forever.
Gabriel has also brought our family closer together as he has touched all of our hearts. Its not easy to talk about our loss or our love but we know we aren't the only ones suffering and dealing with this.
That's why we want to share our story. having support is a massive part of healing. Reading other peoples stories helps us to cope and grieve in a way that's best for us. everyone's story is different and unique, but we all are united by one thing and that is Love, love for our babies.
No matter how different they have come into our lives, our love for them is permanent and only continues to grow. for love endures many things. we know love conquers all things and gives us hope for the future, love gives us all light at the end of the tunnel. and a mother and father love is like no other.
"After all, the pain of pushing your body through a run is nothing in comparison to losing a child but it is my personal outlet and way to honour my son’s memory."
The midwife said: 'Maybe he is turned in a funny position', but we waited and still she couldn’t find the heartbeat.
When it comes down to it, I would never have got anywhere near completing my challenge had it not been for Tommy's, the amazing cause and those they have touched.
Looking back now I realise that my experiences have taught me some valuable lessons. That strength does not have to mean silence; being brave can involve tears and that these babies are chapters of my story.
Baby loss happens too silently. Every story counts. Add your voice to help us #BreakTheSilence.
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