Hannah’s story

11th August 2021, my world changed forever. We were lucky enough to fall pregnant only a month after coming off contraception and it was a huge shock. We thought we would need a lot more time to be ‘mentally ready’ to have a child, but we quickly fell in love. Our journey was never that simple as we only discovered we were pregnant due to having severe pains (which I thought was my first period). Once we found out, there were blood tests and scans to check HCG levels and that it wasn’t ectopic. All was fine and the excitement could begin at 8 weeks pregnant.

Plodding along very happily (although extremely tired), we got to 12 weeks where our world fell to pieces. What was meant to be an exciting day of sharing our news ended up being the complete opposite. After a stressful journey to the hospital, resulting in missing our initial appointment, we were eventually seen. We saw the heartbeat, we saw 10 fingers, 10 toes and a very jumpy little baby. But the sonographer did not look as happy. We were in there for what felt like forever, and then the words ‘‘we can’t quite see what we want to see’’. We were then guided to the ‘quiet room’.

I was oblivious but my partner knew something wasn’t right. A nurse came and told us it wasn’t looking good and that we needed to go to a fetal medicine unit for further tests. Still oblivious, we went home and then read our notes: ‘no nose visible, no midline to the brain, alobar holoprosencephaly?’ Then came the tears. Our baby was not okay. We researched and oh my goodness I wish I didn’t. All a mother wants is to find something that tells you it will be okay, but we couldn’t find anything.

A couple of days later we had our appointment at the fetal medicine unit with the UK’s top sonographer. He was a very gentle man, but shattered our world even more when he confirmed alobar holoprosencephaly and told us we had a decision to make as our little baby was not viable with life. Another hour in a ‘quiet room’ where nurses came and spoke to us about our options. We went through with a CVS, which was very scary to watch, then were sent home to make the worst decision of our lives.

The results came back in a few days but nothing was found in terms of chromosome abnormalities. Time was also ticking as our local hospital was not able to do a surgical termination beyond 15 weeks and I didn’t think I could manage delivering my baby awake if that’s what we decided.

Plodding along very happily (although extremely tired), we got to 12 weeks where our world fell to pieces.

Unfortunately, as much as we loved our baby, we knew that it wouldn’t live and even if it did, we didn’t want it to suffer, so our decision was to terminate. About a week later, 12th October 2021, was the longest day of our lives. Having to spend the day in the early pregnancy unit without a ward for the majority and inconsiderate people asking how pregnant I was and if it was my first blah blah blah… The staff were amazing and moving people away from us so we could grieve our baby. Eventually we got our own bed in our own ward, but then more waiting.

We were there at 11am and had been told not to eat from 7am, but were waiting until 6pm to go to theatre. This was the worst wait ever and I would not wish it on my worst enemies. Luckily, I had my partner with me to hug and cry with, and get through the worst day. At 6pm I got wheeled down to theatre, with a very chatty nurse, who was obviously trying to make me feel better, but I just wanted to sit in silence. Then in theatre, the cannula went in and the mask went over my face. I went to sleep thinking of my baby, how sorry I was and how much I loved them.

I woke up about an hour later and the first thing I thought was how much pain I was in and then it hits me. I don’t have my baby inside me anymore. But I’m numb, physically and mentally and I can’t cry. Those next few hours in the hospital were mind numbing, waiting until I could be discharged and go home to my comfy bed but without a baby. How do you process that? At around 10pm we got to go home and my mum was waiting at my house looking after my dog. I got the biggest hug, the biggest mum hug that I had been needing for the last couple of weeks.

I took the next week off work and communicated with the funeral directors who held the most wonderful small service just for me and my partner on 21st December 2021 with our little boy in the most perfect coffin. Yes, our boy. We said our final goodbye to our little man and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

But here we are now, approaching a year later and my emotions are still just as raw. Six months ago we had an appointment at a London hospital to test both mine and my partner’s blood to see if there was a cause. A year down the line and our journey is still not over. I would not wish this journey on anyone, but I am a stronger person for it, even if I don’t feel like it all the time. Fingers crossed that our results come back clear and we can try again. But for now, we remember our little boy, and have a wedding to plan because despite this awful time in our lives, it has brought me and my partner closer and he proposed on 25th December 2021.

I am so sorry for anyone else who has had to go through such an awful experience but I hope and pray that you will all get your happy endings. Know that there are people out there that love and support you and will always listen. I find peace talking about it as I feel it helps me knowing people remember him, because I will always remember him and he will always be a part of me.