On Sunday 8th September Gemma and Dave will be taking on the Great North Run in memory of their daughter Betsy. This is their story and reason for running.
It was around 5.30pm on Friday 23rd November when I went into labour, we stayed at home as long as we could and finally made our way to Hospital early on the Saturday morning. I can still remember our excitement and Dave joking me through my contractions.
We walked (with some painful pauses) to the delivery suite feeling nervous, but excited about what was about to come (Billy was delivered via C-section, so this was new territory for us). The midwife settled us in the Delivery suite and strapped me up to the monitor.
At first the midwife struggled to get a good read of baby’s heartbeat, I wasn’t too worried as she said this was quite common, but she called a senior midwife to come and help. The senior midwife (Carrie) also had trouble finding a heartbeat so they brought in another machine, all the time reassuring me that baby was just being awkward and not to worry. After a machine change and some swapping of wires they told me that they were going to get a consultant to come and scan me, at this point I should have realised that something was wrong, but they were all so calm and my pre-Betsy brain would never allow me to imagine what was about to unfold. The consultant brought in a mobile scanner and was extremely thorough. I remember looking at Dave’s face as he watched the screen willing them to find our baby’s heartbeat, it was so full of worry and I kept telling him "it’s OK" - but he knew; we had been through enough scans to know when something wasn’t right. I remember the consultant saying, “I’m sorry” and me stupidly thinking she was apologising for taking so long, it was only when Carrie held my hand with tears in her eyes and said “I’m so sorry” that it hit me - we had lost our baby.
Betsy was born at 3.07pm on Saturday 24th November weighing 6lb 2oz, she was placed on my chest and Dave cut the cord. Our beautiful baby girl was so perfect, I looked at her little face and waited for her to cry to prove that they were wrong, but she couldn’t.
Betsy’s death is the worst experience we have ever been through and we would give anything to prevent other parents having to go through it. We were told about Tommy’s and the research they carry out into miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths. We think Tommy’s is a fantastic charity and the valuable research they perform helps countless parents every day.
We miss Betsy every single day. We have since found out that both Billy arriving early at 33 weeks and Betsy being stillborn at 38 weeks were due to an issue with my Placenta. Tommy's fund the "Placenta clinic" in Manchester hospital (along with lots of other research labs) which would support us if we ever decided to try again.
Dave and I always try to find a positive in any situation and I must admit that we struggled to see any positive after losing Betsy, however we have decided to complete the Great North Run in her memory. We want to raise money and awareness for Tommy’s in the hope that they can help other couples (and maybe even us one day) have a healthy pregnancy with a happy ever after.
If the money we raise can prevent just one couple from going through this, we will be eternally grateful. Tommy's are doing incredible research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth and we hope that our fundraising will help them to continue their vital work!
After writing this we have received some fantastic news. We will actually be needing Tommy's help sooner than we thought as I am pregnant again! This does mean that I will postpone my run until next year, but my wonderful sister-in-law Amanda Barton has offered to run alongside Dave this year in memory of our beautiful Betsy!
'No one expects this to happen to them and no one can tell you how you’re meant to act. My pregnancy and birthing plan had disappeared over night and I had two sick babies who I was unable to care for. I felt totally alone with my own feelings and felt I had nowhere to turn.'
'Kolby’s Footprints will forever be helping others who suffer the loss of a baby or supporting where we can with babies that make an early appearance. I will make sure his memory lives on by helping others and leaving his little footprint on many hearts'.
1 in every 225 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK. That's 9 babies every day.
A preterm birth is one that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Globally, more than 1 in 10 pregnancies will end in preterm birth.
Statistics about early miscarriage, late miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.