Stillborn, but still born
You attended all the scans and antenatal classes, read all the updates sent week-by-week, bought every item on every list available for the birth and knew what was needed when you brought your baby home. You had every base covered.
You were just approaching 37 weeks. The hospital bag was packed and you couldn’t wait to meet your first baby. There had been an early miscarriage before this pregnancy, which had made you nervous but you were pretty much there. When you’d passed the 12-week mark, you felt there was nothing to worry about.
One night, the baby hadn’t moved very much, so you listened in with your home Doppler. It was faint but there was a heartbeat. The baby was hiding behind your anterior placenta you told yourself. You were shattered, so went to bed and thought you’d pop to the hospital tomorrow if you still felt unsure. You’d heard a heartbeat so everything was okay. You slept, reassured by the Doppler.
You woke. Something was wrong immediately. You went downstairs, listened again, and again and again... there was silence. And then panic; you rang the hospital, crying. They told you to come in straight away. You rang your husband, who was at work; he didn’t answer on the first call but he knew a second call was serious. You started to break down. He said he’d meet you there.
The drive took forever. Walking into the hospital, you thought you felt movement, so you told your husband you were sorry for dragging him out of work. You were taken straight through to a cubicle and the Doppler went on. The midwife listened, she moved it, and again. You saw her face change a little. She said she would organise a scan and you asked if she was worried. She answered honestly; she would expect to hear more. You looked at your husband and he looked scared. You sobbed, surely this wasn’t happening.
Room 2; a sonographer started the scan immediately. You waited and then she said those words. “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
You screamed. From deep within you, you screamed. In that very moment your heart broke. It actually shattered.
Your husband clung onto your hand and you were led to a room and asked to give blood. You just wanted your baby. You could see your bump, but the baby was no longer alive. You were trying to take it all in; you were beyond hysterical, heart racing, wanting to run and pretend it hadn't happened; that you hadn’t heard those words. If only there was a way to turn back time to the evening before, and come to the hospital earlier. You hated yourself.
You didn’t know anything about stillbirth or what the next steps would be. How had this happened to you?? Doctors came and talked; you nodded, begged for a c-section because you were terrified and then you asked to leave. Outside, you gulped in the air and broke down.
Your husband couldn’t talk through tears so you told your parents – each one breaking, shocked, unsure what to do or say. You needed to not go home.
The next day labour started naturally and you gave birth to your beautiful boy, Miller. You held him and fell in love. He didn’t make a noise. He didn’t cry or wriggle or search for milk. He laid in your arms, all 6lb 14oz of him. You cuddled him. You smiled. You never wanted to let him go.
I know now that my placenta failed, just gave up. My body hadn’t protected him. I’m still telling myself I’m not a bad person. I loved my baby. I know if love could have saved him, he would be alive and well and super healthy.
I am a Mummy, only I had a funeral to arrange, not birthday parties to plan. I am Miller's Mummy and I always will be. Stillborn, but still born.
Life as an angel Mummy is difficult, but I am honoured to have held my son. It’s okay that I still cry tears of sadness and regret. I regret not going to hospital but I didn’t know what was possible. I am not alone.
I want other beautiful pregnant mamas to be aware. Miller can make a difference through education. If I had known the possibilities, how quickly things can change, and that there wouldn’t necessarily be any external warning signs, I would have made different decisions. I want others to make those decisions after hearing my story. I want other mamas to listen to their bodies and throw away home Dopplers, although I respect everyone’s own choices. Midwives will never ever think you are wasting their time. Go get checked if you have any doubt, go go go. Never worry about how many times.
P.S. Miller, I remember you because you are real and you were here. I miss you, but I am so very proud of you, and of being your Mummy. I’m starting to try and forgive myself and writing for you helps, hopefully this letter helps even one mummy make a different decision.
I’m sorry Miller. Mummy loves you xx