“There’s no fetal heart” the words that will forever be on repeat inside my head.
We had a routine scan on the Thursday morning. I’d woken at 4am realising I hadn’t felt much movement. I shook it off thinking, “Don’t be silly. Go back to sleep. You’ve got an appointment in a few hours and all will be ok”.
I couldn’t sleep. I went downstairs for a cold drink thinking maybe that’d wake her up. I thought maybe I felt a little flutter but looking back that was just in my head. I called my mum to collect our 2-year-old as I said I had a funny feeling. Not really knowing what that feeling was.
Our little boy was born at 33 weeks due to being small. We had twice weekly scans with him to keep an eye on his growth, and it was just a matter of time for him to come out. I had three lots of steroid injections with him, and was told on Christmas Eve it was time to pull him out. Born on the 27 December weighing 1.74kg, he was a beautiful healthy little boy.
So, what I was expecting to hear at the routine scan was that it was time to take her out; however all our previous scans had shown no signs of anything like we had with our son. She was healthy and looking good for a 35 plus week delivery.
That morning we drove to see our sonographer (who we’d gotten to know well after our first baby, and then second time round, we felt like family walking into the waiting room each time). The drive in was quiet. Neither of us said a word. We walked into the room after waiting some time. I told her I wasn’t feeling much movement. She said, “Let’s take a look”.
The minute the screen turned on in front of us, we knew something was different, and then there it was. She pulled away and put her hand on mine and said, “I’m sorry, there’s no fetal heart.”
Ben grabs my hand and we both have tears streaming down our faces. I want to scream but I just clench up as our sonographer has a look to see if she can see a cause. She says, “I’m sorry”, and all I can say to her is, “It’s ok, it’s ok”. I look back and think, what was ok in that moment? Really, what was ok about it? Nothing. Nothing was ok. My whole world just came crashing down in a second, and all I could say was, “It’s ok!”?
We then had to see our doctor who gave us the options on what we needed to do next. I still had to deliver this baby somehow. We decided her birth would be just like her brother’s: a c-section. I couldn’t bring myself to experience a natural birth when the end wouldn’t be what it should be. (I knew having a c-section would mean it would be over quicker).
We got booked in for first thing the next morning. I remember walking out of the Doctor’s office covering my belly with my cardigan. I was hiding my baby. I wanted her out. I wanted it all over with, but we had to go home and somehow, I had to try and get some sleep, but I lay awake asking, why us? What did we do to deserve this? How did we become a statistic?
Morning came, Friday 13 February, we walked into the hospital. My husband checked us in whilst another pregnant woman was checking in too. I sat down in the waiting room, tears rolling down my face. A nurse comes over with a box of tissues. She knew why I was there. I was the one who’d lost their baby.
Soon enough it was time to go to theatre. The nursing staff took good care of me whilst Ben put on his scrubs. I remember how cold it was, soft music in the background, and Ben by my side, watching the moment his little girl came into the world. As she was coming out Ben said to me, “She’s got lots of hair”. And indeed she did. This is when normally you’d hear a little cry and I was praying so hard that she’d let out a little cry, but nothing. Just silence. The beautiful nurse wrapped her up in a blanket that I’d bought at 20 weeks after finding out we were having a baby girl. It was at that moment I realised every little bit of my baby was real. She was real. A beautiful baby girl who I had so many hopes and wishes for. The baby girl I’d been growing inside of me for the last 7 months. She had arrived and was absolutely perfect, but she couldn’t stay on earth with us.
This time was supposed to be different. This time I prayed I got to have my baby girl in my hospital room with me; not down in special care nursery. Well I got to have her in my room, but it wasn’t how the dream went. We got back to our room, baby girl in her crib. It was a very surreal moment. We got some alone time and then our nurse came in to help us take photos, prints of her little hands and feet, and we even got a lock of her beautiful dark curly hair. She told us how beautiful she was and how perfect. We cannot thank the nursing staff enough for being so wonderfully caring. We’ll forever think of them and be thankful of them for helping us through this storm as they became part of our healing.
That first night I cried and cried. I knew we’d probably have to say goodbye to our baby girl the next day. My incredibly strong husband held me and wiped away my tears. We decided together that it was time. Mum, Dad and our little boy came to say their goodbyes too.
We then had a few more days in hospital which felt like we were living in this little bubble, a very safe bubble where the rest of the world just didn’t exist. It came time to leave the hospital. We walked out without our baby, just like we did with our son, only we knew he’d come home once he was big and strong. This time we were going home to plan a funeral.
Addison’s service was beautiful, we had family and friends travel to come say their goodbyes. I realised not only did we lose our baby girl but we lost a sister, granddaughter, niece, great granddaughter, great niece and a little friend. They too are grieving, and to them I say thank you. Thank you for being there, for giving our girl the beautiful sendoff she deserved.
Sometime has now passed and there are still days that hurt just as much as the day we lost her. May she forever be our little angel up in the sky watching over us. She will be forever part of our family; her birthday will be celebrated just the way it should be every year, and she will be forever loved.
For whatever reason this happened to us, we have hope. Without hope we have nothing, right? Hope for research, hope to reduce the statistics, and finally hope for our future.
Mother to Addison Paul Grace.