'He understood immediately how scary this pregnancy was for us'

I am writing to thank you for the support we have received via Tommy's Rainbow Clinic in Manchester.

Dawn. Oct 2016

I am writing to thank you for the support we have received via Tommy's Rainbow Clinic in Manchester.

In November 2013 my husband Simon and I were devastated to discover our first child Tegan had died of unknown causes while I was 36 weeks pregnant.

I had a low risk apparently healthy pregnancy with a change in fetal movement being the only indicator that something may be wrong. When I sought help the next morning we received the terrifying news that our baby had died.

Now I needed to give birth to and live the rest of my life without our much wanted first child. 

We did not know what to do, we desperately wanted to parent but the grief was overwhelming.

It was compounded by the fact that the day after we lost Tegan a very dear friend of mine's firstborn was also stillborn.

We went from a world where low risk pregnancies resulted in healthy babies to one where pregnancy and birth became extremely risky and a massive psychological gamble.

A few months after Tegan's death I saw Dr Alex Heazell from the Tommy's stillbirth centre on Channel 4 news talking about stillbirth research. I had been avidly researching possible causes for Tegan's death.

I was struggling to accept that my apparently healthy daughter had to die and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it from happening.

My life was unrecognisable. I was unable to return to work. I spent months reading up on stillbirth research and worrying about how I would dare be pregnant again. On a whim I emailed Dr Heazell about Tegan and his kindness and speedy response demonstrated that he understood both my fears, and my inability to accept it had happened to our girl. 

Eventually the desire to try again equalled the grief and I got pregnant again.

While my local hospital in West London had been very kind it felt to me that I was expected to just accept Tegan's death as a lightning strike. Tegan's postmortem found no cause and the response was to just "try again".

I needed more.

I contacted Dr Heazell again and he understood immediately how scary this pregnancy was for us. And he got that we needed very specific assurances - something very obviously offered by the Tommy's Rainbow Clinic at St Mary's.

Although we live in London we wanted desperately to be seen at the Rainbow Clinic and we were more than prepared to travel to Manchester. 

We were so grateful to be able to visit the clinic for scans and consultations. The pregnancy was highly stressful. I was older, I was affected by what had happened to me and I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. However, we looked forward to visiting the Rainbow Clinic as we knew not only would be listened to, but answered fully and honestly.

It felt we were doing something proactive to look after this little one. Alex Heazell, Hannah Kither and Suzanne Thomas went out of their way with exceptional care and empathy and it really helped us. I felt that I could contact them at any point with questions.

We left each appointment feeling positive - a rare feeling for us.

The loss of a child is far reaching and has huge long term implications for everyone in that child's family. In the early months our families were floundering with how to support us.

My brother Neil had felt powerless in how to reach out to us and decided to do a charity bike ride in Tegan's name last June, just before I found out I was pregnant again.

It now seems so fitting that he chose to raise funds for Tommy's. Little did we know how important the charity would come be to us.

I have used the pregnancy information on your website, contacted the midwife line with questions when I was contemplating getting pregnant again and ultimately greatly benefited from the support of the Rainbow Clinic and its lovely staff.

We feel we have been so very lucky to have been offered their support to complement our local hospital's antenatal care. I really do hope it is something that can be extended to other families like ours as it has proved such an invaluable support. 

Our second child, Zoe Florence Goodwin was born safely on February 12.

It is hard to put into words how happy we are to have her here and how bittersweet parenting her is after losing her sister.

We are so very grateful to Dr Heazell and his colleagues for their kindness. How brilliant that a charity like Tommy's exists.

If you want to find out more about Dr Heazell and the work he and his amazing team are doing, you can read our interview with him here.

Read more stories about stillbirth here

Read more about our research into stillbirth

  • The team at the Rainbow Clinic

    The Rainbow Clinic

    The Tommy's Rainbow Clinic is part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. It provides specialist care for women who have suffered a previous stillbirth or neonatal death.

  • Diagram of baby and placenta in womb

    The Placenta Clinic

    The Placenta Clinic, run as part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, is the largest placenta-focused research group in the world.

  • researcher looking through microscope

    Tommy’s Manchester Research Centre

    Tommy’s research centre at St Mary’s Hospital opened in 2001 and is now home to around 100 clinicians and scientists researching the causes of stillbirth, and how to prevent it.

  • Team of researchers

    Research into stillbirth

    When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation it is called a stillbirth. Around 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year. Tommy’s research is helping to change this.

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