A Mother's Story
death at 21 weeks was a real blow; it took 48 hours for me
to give birth to the tiny little boy that I had already grown
to love. Four pints of blood and quite a few painkillers later,
I was discharged from hospital. Unlike the other mums, I had
empty arms. The physical reminder, however, was still there.
It was 8 months before I fell pregnant again, both my partner
and I were overjoyed. There was, however, a nagging doubt
that lightening would strike twice, when I voiced my doubt
I was laughed at, told I was paranoid. Unfortunately they
were wrong and I was right.
16 week scan at the local hospital showed what was described
as an abnormality, my Consultant knew of the condition, but
not the cause. I was told that an immediate referral to the
regional unit for a full structural scan was necessary, then
we were sent home to wait. Termination had already been mentioned
so I went to my G.P. and said that I did not want this. One
week later I had the scan, I cannot describe the feelings
that I had or the depth of my despair. The confirmation came,
my precious little angel would very probably die. The question
then was, what was I going to do? I wasn't numb, I was paralysed.
The options seemed to be that I could carry on and watch and
feel her die inside me, having the courage to follow through
with my conviction or allow her to die by the hands of man.
I heard terms like, "It would be easier for you to terminate
the pregnancy and start again." Just what you need to
hear at the time. My partner and I spoke at length. The cordocentisis
was performed at 19 weeks, my baby was still alive, still
fighting, every turbulent step of the way. Yes, I loved my
baby with every part of my soul, but I knew the outcome was
going to be death. Well, I'd had a baby at 21 weeks, I knew
what was in store in that respect. However, nothing prepared
me for those who couldn't cope with me telling them I was
pregnant with a baby that was dying. I had a false labour
at 20 weeks, went up to the district hospital and the 'T'
word was hammered home again. I was so adamant I wouldn't
do what I felt I was being pressurised into doing, they had
to call my partner in.
were now answers, my baby was a girl, we had already chosen
a name: Abigail. From 20 weeks I didn't feel her move but
I knew she was alive, every morning I got out of bed and thanked
God for that extra day I had with her. Yes I admit I was in
pain, but there was hope, for every extra day was mine to
have. The love still grew for Abigail, I was so lucky to be
a mum even if it was only for a short while, no one could
take that away from me. I had my check-ups at the G.P.'s surgery,
they were great, never once treating me like I was off my
head. I didn't need medication for my nerves, to take the
edge of the pain. I needed to talk of my love for this tiny
being inside me and I wore their ears off. I felt for David
at this time, he had died at 21 weeks, but with Abigail I
had an extra 3 weeks. Yes, it was worth it and I knew I could
do it all again even if it was the last time before closing
the door on motherhood.
24 weeks I got out of bed and I knew my baby was dead, I just
knew. I wanted just one more day, so I waited 24 hours before
the scan, it was my time to grieve and to feel the relief
of my burden passing. Thirty six hours later my daughter arrived
into this world very disfigured and very dead, I had been
warned at the likely state of her body. I saw her and held
her but only one other held her like I did. When the curate
from my church came to perform the blessing the mortuary assistant
told him, "Are you sure you want to hold her," I
felt for him as he stood alone in the mortuary with my daughter
in his arms, in her he saw what I saw, not the body, but what
she was worth.
ashes were released for internment 10 days after her death
apparently the delay was due to a backlog at the cemetery.
Wonderful! Did I care? Not really. I could not afford a funeral,
besides everyone said they couldn't face the ordeal, so there
my partner and I stood alone, the children together under
the earth. A tiny little box contained Abigail's ashes, I
must admit I really didn't want to let her go.
home that day was my saddest moment, I cried for hours closing
the door and not answering the phone, I really didn't want
to hear how awful anyone else felt. My partner and I found
comfort in different ways. After a while I wanted to talk,
I visited my G.P. then rang Sands who gave me the name of
a local contact, my experiences had been slightly different
to her's, I'd known my child was going to die, I had time
to prepare for her death, but she helped so much. Then I found
out about a consultant who may have been able to help with
my case, my heart wasn't dead - maybe I could go through it
wrote to him, then went to meet him. It was January, cold
and very bleak, money was tight and I couldn't afford to pay
for treatment. I had many questions that needed answers. My
first impression of this specialist, the door opened and in
walked a somewhat dishevelled looking individual of average
build, he paced down the corridor with such determination,
no introduction was needed. He went through my notes with
a pink markerpen, pausing only to run the tip through his
hair. I can only remember thinking, God what on earth is going
on? But I trusted him, he was honest, but there were no guarantees
that this wouldn't happen again.
discussed the fertility drug, multiple birth, the risks of
me having another Abigail. I learned a lot that day, not to
judge a book by its cover, and that although we would never
have all the answers, there was for me at least, hope and
Professor Nicholades was there to help. He would give me the
facts and the rest was for me to decide, he wouldn't tell
me what to do or how to feel. It was June before I went to
see my Consultant for the fertility drug, we did discuss everything.
Selective fetacide was one area that had to be addressed.
What would I do, if I was carrying twins and one had the same
condition as Abigail? Many people have said that you should
cross a bridge when you get to it, generally I agree, however,
in some situations, it simply cannot be ignored. Issues had
to be addressed with the right people.
for me I now have two wonderful children, David and Abigail
have not been replaced, I wouldn't want to. Their lives, for
me, were important, I did learn from my experiences. This
week was Abigail's fourth anniversary, it hurt in a way that
I couldn't express my feelings, on the day, by the evening
the memories overwhelmed me, I lashed out at people around
me because I felt the let down all over again. With everything
that has exploded in the media these last few weeks, it reminded
me of why organisations like Sands exist, to support, not
judge, through the grief.