likes to contemplate that thirty-six and a half weeks of pregnancy
could end in tragedy. I certainly would never have believed
such a terrible thing could happen to me. I lived safely in
the naive belief that such tragedies happened to other people
and not me. I was about to have a rude awakening and I now
realise that awful things happen to very ordinary people every
day, including myself.
a cold Wednesday morning last November, I woke up thinking
it was strange that the baby wasn't moving; he usually woke
me up in the mornings. Steve was showered, dressed and leaving
for work so I got my daughters, Georgina, aged 4 and Charlotte,
aged 20 months dressed and fed. By now I was becoming increasingly
concerned because Gareth had still not moved. I remember standing
in the kitchen prodding my stomach and saying, "Come
on, please wake up".
took Georgina to school and telephoned the hospital to say
I was coming straight over as my baby still wasn't moving.
I bundled Charlotte into the car and drove off. I remember
trying to quell the feeling of panic rising within me. I thought
perhaps, at worst, I would have an emergency Caesarean. The
possibility of anything more serious was inconceivable. I
was over 36 weeks pregnant and I kept telling myself that
within the next few weeks I was going to give birth to our
son, my little baby Gareth and he would make our family complete.
I did not realise at this stage that the events of the next
24 hours would shatter this happy illusion and our lives would
be changed forever. We had discovered at the 20 weeks scan
that this baby was a boy and we were delighted. We have two
beautiful daughters so we thought two girls and a boy would
be perfect. However, the events of that day turned our dream
into a nightmare. The midwives at St Peter's Hospital were
unable to find a heartbeat and an ultrasound scan confirmed
that my baby had died. Amid the ensuing confusion and chaos
I had the awesome task of phoning Steve at work. How do you
explain to your husband that during the night your baby has
died? It was my responsibility to bring him safely into the
world and I had failed. My body had failed me and I had brought
this sadness into our lives.
and numb we went home to organise ourselves. The only way
to cope was to block the reality out of my mind. I had switched
into auto. I was functioning but not comprehending. Hardly
a tear was shed during our telephone conversations with disbelieving
family, friends and neighbours. I wanted to feel their arms
surrounding us, I desperately wanted them to protect us with
their love and shield us from the pain we were about to suffer.
I packed our camera, a baby vest, a nappy and his new baby-grow
we had recently bought from Baby Gap.
returned to St Peter's within a few hours where we were installed
in a cosy side-room away from the sounds of crying new-borns.
It was then I felt the beginning of a kind of isolation as
if I had been removed from normal life. Something so awful
was happening to us, that other people could only imagine
or guess at the devastation it would wreak on our lives. The
midwives who shared that night with us were an inspiration.
They cried with us and for us and showed such care and compassion
that I will remain eternally grateful. Gareth Edward was delivered
into this cruel world at forty minutes past midnight weighing
6lb 8oz and looking exactly like his two sisters. He was perfect
in every way except that he wasn't breathing. His eyes were
tightly closed but he wasn't asleep, he was gone. We had been
robbed of our son and he of his life. The baby who had been
kicking away inside me had left me. I felt very desperate
as my loneliness surrounded me and the emptiness which should
have been filled by my new-born baby grew ever wider and deeper
at an alarming rate until I felt I was drowning in it.
held Gareth and kissed him. His skin was so soft, baby soft
but so cold. We dressed him in his new baby suit and took
some photographs; we knew our time together would be short.
The Chaplain came during the night to bless him and pray for
us. As I lay there holding my dead baby in my arms the dawning
of a realisation rose within me and I knew that my life had
changed forever. It was hard coming home from hospital with
empty arms. My arms have ached to hold him and feel his warm
body next to mine. I feel very deprived that I didn't have
one cuddle with him before he left me. I am still longing
for that one little cuddle.
agreed to a post-mortem. We desperately wanted an explanation
for his death. We had to have something or someone to blame,
if not only for ourselves. The autopsy report arrived by post
on December 14th, his due date. No obvious cause could be
found for his death. This news came as a terrible blow and
the timing of it could not have been worse. The day we had
expected would be one of happiest will remain one of our saddest.
Families, friends and other members of the community were
very supportive and in the days and weeks following Gareth's
death we received numerous flowers, cards, letters and phone
calls. I treasure these messages now and I know that this
network of love and compassion helped us to survive the early
days of overwhelming grief and sorrow.
then I have found it necessary to recognise Gareth's existence
in many ways. I have written a diary, compiled a book containing
all our mementos, his footprint, a lock of hair sent by the
midwives at St Peter's, his certificates, photographs and
messages. Our photographs are incredibly important to us and
our family, especially the grandparents.
Easter Monday we planted a small tree near his grave. When
others have forgotten him, his impact on our lives will continue
to have far reaching consequences for many years to come.
months on, I truly appreciate three friends who are still
prepared to listen to me pour out the contents of my broken
heart. I could never have imagined life would be so cruel,
that my very own baby could die for no apparent reason before
having the chance to take a single breath. The pain of losing
him remains a constant living laceration inside me and my
heart refuses to accept it. A friend said to me recently,
"Well, you've survived Coral." and I said, "No
I'm still trying to survive."
day charts another step along the route to survival.
These words are for my son, Gareth Edward, stillborn November
"We miss you everyday and will always love you."
Gareth Edward Ingham November 21st 1996