Tommy's guest blogs, 12/01/2016, by Adam Powsney
I couldn’t wait to be a dad, it was my dream. I lost my own father when I was 22 and I wanted to do what he'd done, to be as good a dad as he was.
We started trying in May 2013, and by August we were pregnant and over the moon. Hayley suffered repeated water infections, so we had a reassurance scan at 9 weeks and I was so happy I actually gave the sonographer a hug. We told Hayley’s parents and my mum and they were so excited to be expecting their first grandchild.
I got an app that tracks your baby’s progress as it grows from the size of a peanut, to an olive and beyond. As a dad-to-be you don’t feel the kicks, so the app and the scans meant so much, it was my contact with our baby.
Our 12-week scan was fine, and then after our 20-week scan, he started kicking! It was lovely, it made it feel so much more real. I got to work on the nursery, it was what I could do for our little one.
We just never thought anything would go wrong
When Hayley’s waters broke at 33.5 weeks at 5am, we raced straight to the hospital where the consultant discovered our baby was breached and engaged and said Hayley would need to have a C-section. We were both scared as we went to the labour ward for Hayley to be monitored, she kept saying “it’s too early”. I felt so sick but tried to stay calm.
A shift change meant a new consultant and without any further assessments, she told Hayley a vaginal delivery would be less risky. We had just minutes to decide and tragically, we took the consultant’s advice. Had we been informed about the risks with a vaginal birth we would have made a different decision and our son would still be alive.
Watching Hayley in pain made me feel so helpless but, eventually, the consultant returned with over a dozen trainee doctors, one of whom delivered Joshua Jeffrey at 12.24pm. He came out bottom first, his legs kicking but, by the time he was fully delivered, there was no movement, no cry.
They tried to resuscitate him for 40 minutes. I held Hayley’s hand so tight and whispered “don’t look” as I prayed to my dad, to anyone else I could think of. Then the words “I’m sorry, we tried”.
They handed him to us and he was beautiful
Chubby cheeks, a pouty mouth and my curly hair. We both held him for an age in the delivery room, then went to another room where we dressed him and spent the day together.
I remember walking down the corridor to meet three expectant grandparents. In seconds they went from the highest of highs to a crushing low as I sobbed, shook my head, and told them Joshua had passed away.
We weren’t in a position to talk to anyone, but Hayley’s dad and my best friend, a solicitor, met with the consultant and asked if a C-section would mean our son would still be alive. She said he would.
We now know the consultant stopped monitoring Joshua’s heart rate for 24 minutes and he suffocated to death. We know that they put the wrong IV line in to resuscitate him. We’re not doctors, so we put our trust in the medical professionals and it was tragically misplaced.
The hardest thing is that they gave us a choice. Hayley felt her decision to deliver naturally had killed her son.
Our loss affected us differently
Hayley didn’t want to leave the house or see anyone, but I couldn’t stay indoors. I was so angry, hurt and frustrated. All I wanted to do was protect my wife and son, and I’d not been able to.
We weren’t offered any counselling and had no communication from the hospital, beyond a letter to my solicitor friend saying they accepted no responsibility for Joshua’s death. This fuelled our anger and spurred us to take a legal route. They’ve since admitted some liability for our loss.
Given we knew we’d had a perfectly healthy son, and were both desperate to be parents, we started trying again in April 2014 and by June we were pregnant again. We were thrilled and not unduly worried about the pregnancy. For us, we knew the delivery would be the greatest source of anxiety and fear.
We needed to plan and our first decision was choosing St Mary’s Hospital. We didn’t learn about the Rainbow Clinic until our first appointment where we met Dr Alexander Heazell, possibly the best thing that ever happened for us. I feel emotional just thinking about everything he did for us, his kindness and total understanding of what we’d suffered and how we felt.
We had regular scans and saw him every month from 16 to 33 weeks, then every two weeks after that. He could see our anxiety building as our due date approached and offered to deliver our baby himself. He literally held our hands throughout the process and did everything possible to make us comfortable.
Our planned C-section was booked in for February 9th, three days before the year anniversary of Joshua’s death. Dr Heazell didn’t want us in hospital for that, again so considerate.
I know they say hearing your baby cry for the first time is the best moment of your life, well it was better than that
Edie was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, covered in gunk but still the most beautiful thing ever. Telling our parents she’d arrived was incredible.
We all cried and it was like we were putting demons to rest. Nothing will ever replace our son. We took his handprints and footprints, which we had made into jewellery which we both wear every day. Edie’s arrival gave us our first real sense of joy and peace since we’d lost Joshua.
Tommy’s and the Rainbow Clinic are so vital for families like us. The level of care is incredible, and they do everything in their power to support and reassure you. They literally got us through one of the toughest times of our lives.
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My world had crashed. My baby could not have died. I was still pregnant, they must be wrong. Nobody is available to help me. What will I tell my Mum? What have I done wrong?
To us, she was perfect and the love we felt for her stronger than I had ever understood possible. In spite of our grief, we would never change our experience of knowing and loving Aisling.
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