Dearest family and friends,
I’m writing this letter today not only as a form of personal therapy, but also to express to you the story of our recent heartbreak.
I understand many of you will want to know what’s happened to me and Dave over the past few weeks. Hopefully you’ll be able to appreciate that it’s a lot easier for us to share our story with you through this letter rather than retelling it to you all individually.
It began during a routine appointment at our local clinic three weeks ago. The midwife was unable to hear a heartbeat. I hadn’t felt any movements that morning but at only 24 weeks, that didn’t seem out of the normal. Up until that point the baby’s movements had been more of a gentle flutter. Even then, I really had to concentrate to feel them. The clinic sent me to the Nepean Hospital for a follow up ultrasound, which confirmed that I was missing my second heartbeat. The scans showed that he’d stopped growing either the day of, or possibly the day before, my check–up at the clinic.
I was admitted to hospital to deliver our baby boy. It was a very long and emotional day for us. He was delivered at 20:27 on Wednesday 29 April 2020.
The midwife said he was a beautiful boy with 10 fingers and 10 toes. Dave and I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing and holding him. He was promptly removed from the room after the delivery. We both felt as though we had already met our little baby boy over the last 24 weeks and the idea of seeing him in that state would just be too hard for us to deal with.
Stillbirth is the medical term for the birth of a baby born without signs of life after 20 weeks’ gestation. I was 24 weeks pregnant at the time.
Six stillborn babies are delivered each day in Australia. In many cases, there is no known cause.
Upon returning from the hospital we had to register his birth and arrange for the cremation. We named him Jerry. That’s not the name we had planned for him, but is what we’d been calling him since he started sharing my body in December 2019. He had developed ears so that’s the name he would have heard.
We’ve decided we want to scatter Jerry’s ashes along the Castlereagh River at Dave’s parents farm. It’ll be just me and Dave there to say goodbye. It’s been a very personal journey between me and Dave, so it just seems fitting that we do this alone and make our peace together.
The amazing midwife who delivered him said the cord appeared knotted or crushed but couldn’t provide any real answers. We have a follow up appointment with a specialist in a few weeks and hope to get some answers then. Unfortunately, as with many stillbirths there simply may be no answer for how this happened.
Although this is a heartbreaking story, Dave and I will laugh and smile again. You all know Dave is amazing and makes the world a better place. He also makes me a better person and gives me strength to see light in our future.
Please don’t hold back the news of a new child or an exciting milestone in your family life because you think it will upset us. We’re still excited and want to celebrate the good news of others!
There will be unexpected triggers which we can’t plan for, so I won’t ask you to ignore the situation (and neither should we). I do ask that you have patience with us and not be frightened of our tears. Our tears are for Jerry and we are ready to laugh and smile again with you all.
Even though it feels as though we’ll have broken hearts forever, I’m positive Dave and I will return from this darkened place and into the light again soon.
Written by – Samantha, mother to Jerry.