I remember looking up and seeing a dark screen. It remained dark. The usual light of our baby was not there.

January 14 2016 should have been such a very special day to look forward to, as it was our baby’s due date. However, very sadly we lost our beautiful baby last October 2015, at 25 weeks.

by Hannah, Gabriella's mummy.

January 2016

gabriella 12 week scan

I have written this piece in her memory, and to share our journey in the hope it may be of help to someone else going through a similar experience, just as I found support from reading other people’s stories.

In May 2015 I found out I was expecting our first baby. I felt my life change as soon as I saw the blue cross.

From that moment, my every move throughout the day revolved around our baby, wanting to protect as best as I possibly could. Early on at around 6 weeks I had a very light bleed and instantly went to the hospital to be checked. This was the first time I saw our baby and heard her heartbeat. I remember thinking it was the most special thing I had ever experienced. The hospital gave us the all clear, however I was reminded that as this was my first pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage was quite high.

Hearing this information made me feel quite anxious, but I tried to remain positive and hoped for the best. I had always remembered a very sad story of someone losing their baby very late on in pregnancy. Knowing this made me feel extra cautious and appreciate the risks of pregnancy. 

Our 12 week scan soon came round, and I remember feeling quite anxious, worrying about the risk of miscarriage and hoping our baby’s heartbeat would be present. It was amazing to hear our baby’s heartbeat and see how much she had grown since the early scan.

We opted to keep the images and video clips from the scan on a memory stick, which I am so pleased we did. A few weeks later I had another light bleed. As soon as I saw the speckles of blood I went into panic mode, petrified this was the start of us losing our baby. We went to A&E to be checked. It was a huge relief to see our baby appear on the screen and hear her heart beating. At this point, I was told the placenta was low lying and that more than likely this would move upwards as our baby grew.

A huge sense of relief came over me knowing our little baby was safe and well. It was around this time I began feeling little flutters which was such a magical feeling.

My birthday arrived in September and I remember thinking that being pregnant and a mummy was the best gift I could ever wish for.

It was the gift of all gifts. A few days later we went for our 20 week scan, although we were closer to 23 weeks. Those initial seconds waiting for our baby to appear on the screen felt forever and I remember feeling petrified after the recent light bleed. I felt a huge sense of relief again, seeing our baby and hearing their heartbeat.  As it was the 20 week scan, we opted to keep our baby’s sex a surprise for their arrival.

We were told everything looked to be fine and baby was measuring well. I went away feeling a bit more reassured and more hopeful for the future.

A few weeks later we flew to New York and I struggled quite a bit with swollen feet. I thought this was a combination of flying and a typical sign of pregnancy. I also developed an itching around my belly. I looked into this as we were away from home. I read this was another typical symptom of pregnancy as the skin stretches to accommodate a baby’s growth. Upon our return home, I obtained medical advice regarding my feet, and was advised to keep my feet up.

Two days later I went to the hospital for a routine check-up with my obstetrician. We went through the normal checks: weight, blood pressure etc. Since the scan two weeks previously, my weight had increased rapidly by 4kg.  I knew I had been away on a mini-break and had some nice meals out, however I ate healthy and sensibly. It was questioned why my weight had increased so much in such a short space of time. 

Our obstetrician said he wanted to complete an ultrasound to check our baby before finishing the appointment. I got on the bed and had the usual feelings of anxiety, worrying if our baby’s heart would be beating. I remember looking up and seeing a dark screen. It remained dark.

The usual light image of our baby was not there.

My heart sank. I knew immediately something wasn’t right. I was asked when I last felt baby move and kick, to which I replied yesterday. Our obstetrician told us he was struggling to find our baby’s heartbeat. My heart sank. My fears had finally come true.

Our baby’s heart was no longer beating. The measurements calculated our baby had passed away possibly one to two weeks prior.

Hearing this news shattered both my husband and I. I could not take in what had just been said.

Time stood still.  

I remembering pinching myself, wondering if it was a dream. I couldn’t believe our little baby had gone to sleep. I remember feeling dazed from the news and could not get my head around what had been said. Once home, we contacted our parents to tell them the news which was incredibly difficult to do.

I could not physically tell to my parents what had happened, I felt I had lost the ability to speak.

I couldn’t look at my family in the face, I felt so ashamed. I felt the biggest sense of guilt. I was our baby’s lifeline and felt I had not done the most important job of my life, keeping our baby alive and safe.

We returned to hospital the following day where I was induced. The contractions took some time to appear. When they did, they were incredibly painful and I had an epidural to ease the pain. It was the most heartbreaking thing to experience, going through labour and knowing your beautiful baby was going to arrive fast asleep. 

When our baby arrived into the world fast asleep, we learnt we were the very proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. We decided to call her Gabriella.

memorial to Gabriella.

Gabriella had her father’s nose and large feet like her mummy. My husband was incredibly supportive and remained by my side throughout our time in hospital. We were also very lucky to have support from our local GP who helped us both during Gabriella’s labour and once I was discharged from hospital. When we went to leave the hospital, I saw a lady cradling her newborn baby, wearing the same babygrow that we had bought for Gabriella. It was incredibly difficult to see the babygrow on another baby, knowing Gabriella wouldn’t get the chance to wear it. 

Once home, the following weeks were incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally. I developed mastitis which was incredibly painful. It felt like a huge kick in the teeth, knowing my body was prepared to feed Gabriella but she was not here to receive it.

I felt I had lost all sense of purpose. I remember thinking I needed to try and set myself small daily goals, to help my motivation for getting up on a morning. As I’m in the middle of studying a masters, I found this to be a great focus. It was also around this time a small litter of beagle pups had been born who needed homes. My husband and I decided to provide a home for one of the pups, and I can say this has been a wonderful decision.

Moneypenny has been a little ray of sunshine in our lives and has provided a lot of love to our two broken hearts. 

As we live between the UK and overseas, we had to go through the repatriation process. This was another difficult experience for both my husband and I, as there was a lot of documentation to complete.

I remember seeing Gabriella’s death certificate. I think it was that very moment, seeing the words ‘deceased’ on paper, made me realise all of this was real.

On the 3rd November, the three of us flew back to London Heathrow.

We were transported to my home town where Gabriella was placed in the Chapel of Rest. Gabriella’s service was held on November 11th 2015.

Laying your baby to rest is something no parent should ever have to do.

Cradling Gabriella’s casket in the car on the way to the service was heart-wrenching. At the same time, I remember thinking it was one of the most special things I could do as it would be my last chance to hold her in my arms.

The Lion King’s Circle of Life song was played at her service as the lyrics were poignant to Gabriella’s journey and her life. The song also symbolised one of the last times we were together as a family, watching the Lion King in New York. We were very lucky to be under the care of a fantastic obstetrician who has supported us every step of the way. Numerous tests have been completed, all of which have come back clear.

Having no explanations for Gabriella’s loss has left me feeling a mixed bag of emotions.

If something had been identified, we would have an answer behind our tragic loss. However, having no answers makes it even harder to understand why our daughter was taken away from us. The days running up to our due date were incredibly tough. I remember thinking my hospital bag should be packed and we should be waiting for the arrival of Gabriella.

Waking up on the morning of Gabriella’s due date was incredibly sad.

I should have been filled with happiness and excitement. Instead I felt empty, numb and heartbroken. We completed several memorable activities on Gabriella’s due date as a way of celebrating her special day. I have also continued writing in Gabriella’s pregnancy journal to capture thoughts and feelings as the weeks have gone by, and to follow the developmental changes which Gabriella would have experienced. I have been very lucky to have a couple of friends have gone out of their way to comfort me.

One friend found a very helpful blog by Amy Antoinette on baby loss. I found this a very moving read, and it related to what I was thinking and feeling. My friend also sent me a copy of the book ‘This I know’ by Susannah Conway, which has also been another source of support. Another friend sign posted me to Tommy’s, which I found an incredibly helpful resource.

I guess this is part of the reason why I am sharing our journey, as a means of giving something back to Tommy’s, to help others.

Gabriella had her father’s nose and large feet like her mummy. My husband was incredibly supportive and remained by my side throughout our time in hospital. We were also very lucky to have support from our local GP who helped us both during Gabriella’s labour and once I was discharged from hospital. When we went to leave the hospital, I saw a lady cradling her newborn baby, wearing the same babygrow that we had bought for Gabriella. It was incredibly difficult to see the babygrow on another baby, knowing Gabriella wouldn’t get the chance to wear it. 

Once home, the following weeks were incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally. I developed mastitis which was incredibly painful. It felt like a huge kick in the teeth, knowing my body was prepared to feed Gabriella but she was not here to receive it.

I felt I had lost all sense of purpose. I remember thinking I needed to try and set myself small daily goals, to help my motivation for getting up on a morning. As I’m in the middle of studying a masters, I found this to be a great focus. It was also around this time a small litter of beagle pups had been born who needed homes. My husband and I decided to provide a home for one of the pups, and I can say this has been a wonderful decision.

Moneypenny has been a little ray of sunshine in our lives and has provided a lot of love to our two broken hearts. 

As we live between the UK and overseas, we had to go through the repatriation process. This was another difficult experience for both my husband and I, as there was a lot of documentation to complete.

I remember seeing Gabriella’s death certificate. I think it was that very moment, seeing the words ‘deceased’ on paper, made me realise all of this was real.

On the 3rd November, the three of us flew back to London Heathrow.

We were transported to my home town where Gabriella was placed in the Chapel of Rest. Gabriella’s service was held on November 11th 2015.

Laying your baby to rest is something no parent should ever have to do.

Cradling Gabriella’s casket in the car on the way to the service was heart-wrenching. At the same time, I remember thinking it was one of the most special things I could do as it would be my last chance to hold her in my arms.

The Lion King’s Circle of Life song was played at her service as the lyrics were poignant to Gabriella’s journey and her life. The song also symbolised one of the last times we were together as a family, watching the Lion King in New York. We were very lucky to be under the care of a fantastic obstetrician who has supported us every step of the way. Numerous tests have been completed, all of which have come back clear.

Having no explanations for Gabriella’s loss has left me feeling a mixed bag of emotions.

If something had been identified, we would have an answer behind our tragic loss. However, having no answers makes it even harder to understand why our daughter was taken away from us. The days running up to our due date were incredibly tough. I remember thinking my hospital bag should be packed and we should be waiting for the arrival of Gabriella.

Waking up on the morning of Gabriella’s due date was incredibly sad.

I should have been filled with happiness and excitement. Instead I felt empty, numb and heartbroken. We completed several memorable activities on Gabriella’s due date as a way of celebrating her special day. I have also continued writing in Gabriella’s pregnancy journal to capture thoughts and feelings as the weeks have gone by, and to follow the developmental changes which Gabriella would have experienced. I have been very lucky to have a couple of friends have gone out of their way to comfort me.

One friend found a very helpful blog by Amy Antoinette on baby loss. I found this a very moving read, and it related to what I was thinking and feeling. My friend also sent me a copy of the book ‘This I know’ by Susannah Conway, which has also been another source of support. Another friend sign posted me to Tommy’s, which I found an incredibly helpful resource.

I guess this is part of the reason why I am sharing our journey, as a means of giving something back to Tommy’s, to help others.

Gabriella funeral service

I have also found support in chatting things through with friends who have very sadly gone through similar experiences. It is quite alarming just how many people have experienced the loss of a baby. Aside from family and friends, I also found comfort in continuing to meet the other pregnant mum’s (now mummy’s) from our mums to be group. I found this important to continue attending after laying Gabriella to rest as it 

was comforting being around my mum friends.

It also helped me to feel close to Gabriella, knowing the bumps/babies would have been Gabriella’s first friends. Thursdays were and still are the most difficult day of the week, as it symbolises a new week in Gabriella’s pregnancy. Therefore meeting up with the mums every Thursday morning also helped me through part of this difficult day.

As a way of saying thank you to Tommy’s and to support their mission for medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth & premature birth, a group of friends and I are completing various fundraising events

Our first challenge is a half marathon this coming Saturday 23rd January. My fitness levels may not be the same as before I fell pregnant with Gabriella, but completing the marathon in her memory and for Tommy’s will be a huge incentive to reach the finish line. 

Tommy's running top and trainers.

 

To support Tommy's stillbirth research centre, click here.

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