We travelled to our son’s funeral in the car, a tiny coffin between us

Sharon and her husband Andrew from Manchester lost their son, James, at 29 weeks to stillbirth. Sharon was referred to the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic with her second pregnancy

Andrew and I had always wanted children so when we found out we were pregnant; we were over the moon. During my first trimester, I felt fantastic and didn’t even feel sick. I was diagnosed with an anterior placenta but, overall, it was a very healthy pregnancy. At our 20 week scan we found out we were having a boy and we couldn’t wait to meet him.

No heartbeat. It was stillbirth

At a routine 29 week midwife appointment they couldn’t find his heartbeat. The midwife explained he could be hiding behind the placenta and sent me to hospital to get checked. I told my husband not to come but I was beginning to feel worried. By the time I got to hospital I was so upset a lovely receptionist came into the scan room with me.

There, they told me he’d gone, that there was no heartbeat. I screamed so hard I burst a blood vessel in my eye.

I was in shock. I knew I needed to tell my husband, but I didn’t know how, so I called my mum. After what felt like hours, they arrived. We were talked through the procedure and I didn’t want to wait for ‘nature to take its course’ so they gave me a pill to ready me for induction.

On the Friday, we went to hospital and at 10.30pm I told my husband to go get some help. After one push, our son, James, arrived and was placed onto me. He weighed 1lb7 and he was perfect.

Spending time with our son

The hospital had a cold cot, so we spent one night with our son. The next day we had family visitors then we had some alone time, just us three, before saying goodbye. Leaving James at the hospital was almost impossible. I was given a memory box with handprints, footprints and two teddies, one for us and one for James.

I didn’t want a post-mortem but I agreed they could do some non-invasive tests and the results all came back clear. There was no explanation for our loss which was almost as hard as losing him, but I found peace in the idea he was too good for this earth.

“We travelled to our son’s funeral in the car, a tiny blue coffin between us, and it was a beautiful day.”

Afterwards we had to try and put our lives back together. My husband and I booked a holiday so we could spend some quality time together. People were treading on eggshells around us, but I wanted to talk about it and to hear his name. Getting away allowed to us to grieve in our own way.

Excited but terrified

Andrew and I talked and decided I wouldn’t go back on the pill, but we wouldn’t actively try again. In February 2017 I did a pregnancy test and broke down when I saw that it was positive. I was overjoyed but, within hours, all-consuming fear kicked in.

At our 20 week scan we found we were having a girl and we were thrilled. We had lots of checks and all seemed to be healthy. However, at 26 weeks, a growth scan showed that our baby was incredibly small. I broke, I couldn’t lose another baby.

After lots of tests, we were told that our baby would have to be delivered early. It was 48 hours later that I was referred to the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester. We met Professor Alex Heazell who scanned me then explained in detail what was happening. He said he wanted to monitor me carefully and explained that, although our baby was very small, she was also happy and healthy. I found this very comforting.

An agonising wait

Professor Heazell scanned me three times a week and said he was confident we could get to 30 to 32 weeks. I was scanned at Bolton too, the other four days of the week. I spent so long at the hospital, but I didn’t care; I’d have lived at hospital if I’d had to. I was just relieved that if anything went wrong, we would be able to get her out as soon as possible.

A week later, I felt my baby’s movements reduce.  We went straight to hospital and the doctor said he was unhappy with her heart rate and wanted to deliver her straight away by c-section. I had a complete meltdown. I was on medication so I couldn’t have an epidural which meant my only option was delivering my daughter asleep and without my husband. I was terrified.

When I woke up from the anaesthetic, a surgeon came in to tell us that our daughter, Sophie, was well. She was such a little a fighter. She had to stay in hospital for just over 7 weeks and every time we left without her was hard. When we finally took her home, we cried the happiest tears in the world. Sophie is now nearly 18-months and doing amazingly well.

Forever grateful to Tommy’s

The help I received from the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic meant the world to me. I was absolutely terrified during my pregnancy with Sophie but Professor Heazell’s gentle and honest approach really put me at ease. I genuinely believe that, without Tommy’s, Sophie would not have made it. The technology they have is phenomenal and the level of care outstanding.

“Professor Heazell and the Tommys team saved my daughter’s life and we will be forever grateful for everything they did for us and for all the families they help.”

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