Our story began at 12 weeks gestation with our baby, when we went for our first scan and we were told she my be unwell. We opted for a CVS at that time – we were very nervous because there was a risk of miscarriage and we had had two miscarriages the year before – but the procedure was performed safely and we were told two weeks later that our baby was absolutely fine, and she was going to be okay. The relief we felt was incredible, and we were so happy she was well. We were so excited and so looking forward to meeting her.
At later scans, we were told the CVS had somehow been wrong (the hospital’s sample had been small and it turned out they had tested my cells, not our baby’s), and that it looked like our baby was very unwell after all. At first, the hospital told us she had a problem with her heart, and she would need operations and perhaps some additional care after she was born, but that she would survive. We were scared and worried about her, but we were determined that we would access the best possible care for her, and we’d do whatever she needed, for us to support her.
Some time after, though, we were told things were much, much worse. The hospital called us in to tell us that, following some more tests, it had become clear that our daughter had a condition which was ‘not compatible with life’. This meant that our baby would die. This would happen either in my womb, or in all likelihood just minutes or hours after she was born. The hospital also told us that in the unlikely event she did live for more than a few hours, she would struggle to breathe and to be fed, before she died. We couldn’t really understand all of this, and spoke to as many doctors as we could to try and figure out how we could make sure our daughter would be comfortable and not in pain, either during labour or after she was born, but it seemed impossible for anyone to reassure us. We were completely devastated. We were in shock. We just couldn’t believe that she was so unwell and that she was going to die.
Our daughter was stillborn some time after. Going in to the hospital to deliver her was very difficult, and frightening. I had no idea what to expect. But after she was born, both my husband and I didn’t want to leave – we loved being able to hold her, and just to be with her in any way that we could – the hospital became our place to be with her. We dressed her in clothes that friends had sent for her, we wrapped her in the blanket her Grannie had made for her and we told her over and over that we loved her. We found it hard to leave that space that we’d shared as a family, and go home without her. It was incredibly bleak, and surreal in some ways, as though we were observing our lives from a distance. I think we were both simply not in our right minds for some time.
It has been over 7 years since our daughter was born and there have been some very bleak periods during that time. It took a long time to accept what happened to her – to adjust to her not being here, to accept her loss and to understand what happened to us all. It took its toll on us as individuals and also on us as a couple.
But I think we are now able – in as much as any parent ever can – to accept that it has happened. We still don’t really understand it, and we continue to grieve deeply for our daughter. But with the help of some amazing friends and family over the years, we have survived. More than that, we now enjoy the blessings our lives bring.
We are so sad our daughter is not here and some days, some moments, that loss is still unmanageable. But we have absorbed the shock and the grief, so that our daughter’s loss has become part of who we are.