#2 My Bump Didn't Feel Right...
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
After my hospital visit on Monday, we ended up having a fairly quiet weekend. It had been Father’s Day on the Sunday so we’d made a fuss of Daddy and enjoyed some family time. The following Monday had been relatively normal, I’d started a few projects since finishing for maternity leave and was finishing those off and rechecking my hospital bag, for the millionth time!
Tuesday 18th June 2019 – 2 days Before Due Date
When I woke up in the morning my bump didn’t feel right. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it to you, but it just didn’t feel as rigid. It wasn’t wobbly and from the outside everything looked normal, but I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Because I was already a mum I just had to carry on with our morning routine though. We got up, got dressed, and I dropped Ruby at the childminders.
Driving out of the childminders driveway I rang the hospital. I told them that things didn’t feel right and they told me to come in. When I arrived I was sent straight to the labour ward and waited in their reception area to be seen. Previously I had been seen in the day assessment ward, so I’m not sure why I wasn’t asked to go to there like before - maybe it was full, I don’t know. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I was taken to a side room and put on a monitor. The midwife begins to faff, wiggling the pads, and then says to me “Can they usually find baby straight away?” to which I replied a very quiet “Yes”. She then turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, sometimes they can hide or it might be the monitor, let me go and get my colleague.” I think I knew at that point, even if I couldn’t say it, and it hadn’t been confirmed.
The midwife came back with a doctor and someone I later found out was a trainee doctor! She put the monitor on and said to me, “I’m going to be very quiet and not say anything as I need to check baby is ok, so please don’t worry…” I saw Ellis on the screen. I’d had enough scans at this point to know what I was looking for - a heartbeat - but there was nothing. The doctor turned to the trainee doctor and nodded then turned to me and said “I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat. Your baby has died.” I went numb.
I remember phoning my husband who knew I’d popped into the hospital as I had mentioned I didn’t feel right. I remember just telling him “I’m so sorry.” I could hear him crying at the other end of the phone, he was crushed – I had crushed him. Hearing his tears and the utter devastation in his voice changed my mind-set. I put my practical hat on, something I have learnt I do in a crisis. I told him to tell his boss that I needed him to come to the hospital, and to calm down before he got in the car. I also rang my mum who lives closer to the hospital, so I knew she would get to me before Trevor did. I was moved across the labour ward reception to a different room, a room I now know as the bereavement suite - The Rowan Suite. Here I was met by another doctor, another midwife, and also a bereavement midwife. Who knew there was such a thing?
My mum then arrived, shortly followed by Trevor (don’t ask what speed he drove at!). There were so many tears; I knew that my heart was broken, and I knew I had broken their hearts, but Ellis was in my tummy. I needed to focus on him, so my practical hat stayed well and truly on my head as I listened to the doctors and midwives explain to me what was going to happen next. I knew that I was going to have to give birth to Ellis, there was no two ways about it, he was full term. He wasn’t just going to disappear.
The first thing that came to my mind was Amanda Holden, odd right? Not to me I guess - I had been an avid listener to Giovanna Fletcher’s ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ podcast since it started, and remembered listening to Amanda’s episode where she talks beautifully about her son Theo, who they lost at 7 months pregnant. The doctor was telling me that I would be given a drug to start the induction process. This drug also helped to protect my insides - don’t ask me how! The drug needed time to work, so I would have to go home and come back in 24 hours. I remember thinking “No, this can’t be right, I can’t go home with my dead baby in my tummy and just pretend like everything is normal”, I asked them for a C-section, because that’s what Amanda Holden had - good enough for her, good enough for me, right? Well apparently, not. Because Ruby had been a C-section and I was still young enough to have more children after Ellis, they advised me that a C-section would not be good for my health now and in future pregnancies, should these happen. I was angry, but I did understand - a little bit. I later listened back to that podcast episode and what I had not remembered was Amanda had fallen pregnant quite quickly after losing Theo but had ended up in an induced coma after giving birth to her daughter because of scar tissue from her C-section.
Wednesday 19th June 2019
What a weird day. We’d kept things normal for Ruby - ate breakfast, got her dressed. Trevor took her to the childminders, who we had told what had happened the day before and they had been so understanding, even offering to keep Ruby overnight with them if we needed some time. But as grateful as I was for the offer, I needed to see my baby girl, to have her close, and to keep things normal for her.
Because we knew we were going to be induced on the 20th June, Ellis’ due date, we had already planned for Ruby to go to my parents’ house and stay there overnight as we didn’t know how long I’d be in labour for, if needs be she would stay there the full weekend. They only live 5 minutes from us so could always pop back for a change of clothes, new toys etc. The fact that we were still going in on the 20th June to be induced but to be delivering a dead baby rather than a live one didn’t change the plan, Ruby was still going to Nana & Grandads for a sleepover, and she was beyond excited.
We sat her down on Wednesday evening and told her that Mummy & Daddy were still going into hospital the next day but that her baby brother wouldn’t be coming home. We explained that he wasn’t strong enough to live outside of Mummy’s tummy and that he had died. I had quickly read a lot of leaflets on how to tell children their sibling has died and I knew to try and steer clear of saying he had died sleeping as that might give her a fear of falling asleep, or to say he was now an angel in the sky and then for her to ask why she wasn’t an angel. All these seemingly innocuous things but ultimately very important to her. We aren’t religious so we didn’t feel the need to mention heaven, she can make her mind up on that when she’s older. So, we decided to tell her that he lives in our hearts instead of in our home. Ruby had only just turned 3 which is such a young age to take on such news, with no way of her fully understanding it. But in her usual way she took it in her stride, and then in Ruby fashion asked what was for dinner!
Thursday 20th June 2019 – Due Date
I needed to repack my hospital bag. I’d still need all of my things for labour and after labour, but his coming home outfit would now become his first and last outfit. We decided to take a few with us as we couldn’t decide which one would be best. I mean how do you decided that? One outfit for your son, the only one he will wear, ever.
We dropped Ruby off at my Mums. There was a weird tension, Mum was visibly upset, and Dad was his usual matter of fact self – and wonder where I get it from! Ruby bounced into the house and headed straight for the toys and off we went, no hugs, no kind words, just off – I couldn’t handle the kindness & sadness. I felt an overwhelming wave of disappointment; I felt like I had let everyone down and had made everyone sad - sad beyond belief. I needed to just get into the hospital and be in my own bubble. I had to do this one last thing for Ellis, I had to make sure I did this bit right, to try and make his arrival into this world as normal as possible. He needed to know that we cared, and that he was and is loved. I was scared, so scared of what he would look like, feel like. Would I want to hold him? Cuddle him? Get to know him? So many unknowns, except one… he wouldn’t be coming home.