Tommy’s guest blog, 27/01/2017, by Sandra
In November 2015 Sandra was given the devastating news that her baby boy Toby had died at 25 weeks.
Two days before his death, Sandra had reported with reduced fetal movements and been reassured that everything was fine.
At some point in the following 48 hours, Toby’s heart stopped beating.
Sandra has gone on to fundraise in her baby boy’s name and raise enough money to donate a cuddle cot to the hospital Toby was born in, as well as donating £350 each to Tommy’s and Sands.
Here is her story
I found out in 2015 that I was expecting my third baby, a little boy who was due on 29th February 2016, my special little leap year baby.
I was referred to the consultant as my first two children had been on the smaller side at birth; 5lb 14oz at full term and 6lb 10oz at 39 weeks, to have growth scans.
As this was my third pregnancy and I has two healthy children I didn't for one minute ever think that anything could go wrong.
I had my anomaly scan in October 2015 and everything looked ok, I saw my little boy waving away at me and was madly in love with him already.
After looking through my notes I discovered that I had anterior placenta so had a look online to see what that meant and read how it could make movement more difficult to detect.
From early November I started to feel like babies movements weren't quite as strong and frequent as they had been.
I thought it might be because baby was on the smaller side, because I wasn't far enough along to have developed a pattern or simply because I had anterior placenta so I didn't report the changes to anyone.
I got to 25 weeks and started to worry as I hadn't felt my baby move in 24 hours, normally he was most active in the evenings and I hadn't been able to encourage any movements with the normal suggestions of a cold drink and lying on the left side etc so I tried to call the midwife centre but got no answer, I then rang the hospital and was told to go in to be checked.
Note: suggestions such as ‘drink a cold drink’ are myths and could waste valuable time. If you experience reduced fetal movements you should go directly to your midwife or GP. Download our leaflet for more information here.
It was very busy on the maternity ward and I felt a bit foolish being there, I was eventually seen and the midwife found the heartbeat straight away, I felt such a burden.
The following day I still hadn't felt any movement but I didn't want to be a burden again at the hospital and couldn't get hold of my midwife.
I had a routine midwife appointment booked for the following day anyway so I decided to wait and relay my concerns to her the next day.
I lay down ready to hear Toby's heartbeat but sadly I never heard it again, my little boy had passed away sometime during the last 48 hours.
Three days later I gave birth to my sleeping prince on 21st November 2015 at 25+ 5 weeks into my pregnancy.
The reality of walking onto the delivery suite knowing you wouldn't be leaving with your baby is one of the most unimaginable horrors any parent can ever face.
We spent the next 24 hours making memories with our little boy and having a blessing for him, sadly over this time his physical condition began to deteriorate.
We left the hospital the following day with broken hearts and empty arms.
After our loss I began talking with other families who had suffered the loss of a child and learnt about a special unit that some hospitals have called a cuddle cot.
A cuddle cot is a cooling system that allows the families of babies who have sadly passed away, additional time with their children by keeping their tiny little bodies cool and therefore preserving their physical appearance.
I decided that in Toby's honour I wanted to raise the £1600 needed to purchase a cuddle cot for my local hospital Glan Clwyd where Toby had been born as they didn't have one available.
I wanted to try and help future families who would suffer the pain of losing a baby by giving them that extra quality time with their angels.
During my fundraising it was my intention that if I raised more than the £1600 needed I would either continue until I had enough to purchase a second cot, or split any extra money between two charities that help families who suffer the loss of babies.
I chose Tommy’s, who fund research into pregnancy loss and complication as well as providing parent with support and information through grief or subsequent pregnancies. And Sands, a Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity who offer counselling and support to anyone affecting by the death of a baby.
With the kindness and generosity of friends, family and the local community I managed to raise an amazing total of £2300.
In October 2016 I was able to donate a cuddle cot to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in honour of Toby.
I am now able to send Tommy's and Sands a cheque, each for the total of £350 to hopefully help in the research into ending miscarriage and stillbirth but also offering help to those who have been affected.
This wouldn't have been possible without the kindness and generosity shown during my fundraising so a big thank you to everyone who contributed.
I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with my rainbow baby, a little brother or sister to Toby and I will get any changes in movement checked out immediately as I understand fully now just how important it can be and how devastating the consequences are.
If you want to read more about reduced fetal movements or any of the myths surrounding your baby’s movements then take a look at our #MovementsMatter website hub.
If you are confused about what the national guidelines for reduced fetal movements, you can download our ‘Feeling you baby move is a sign that they are well’ leaflet (pdf).
There are times when it all feels like too much, but at those times I think of my daughter, who was such a fighter, and suddenly everything seems more manageable again.
"I truly feel without the support of the EPU and the peace of mind given to us through the Tommy's study we would not be where we are today."
Little Anderson was born under the care of the Tommy's Early Miscarriage Research Centre at London Imperial.
My miscarriage story started in February 2016- it was early, at about 6 weeks and I put it down to one of those things.
Looking back at our experience of miscarriage, 10 years on: a partner's perspective