We found out we were expecting a few weeks after our Honeymoon. This was our third baby and a little unexpected. Myself and my Husband both felt slightly apprehensive as we had a 4-year-old (Arthur) and a 2-year-old (Evelyn). Life was just beginning to get easier and bringing another baby into our home would change it a lot. We would need a bigger car and to speed up our plans to move house. Our daughter was particularly clingy with me, how would she cope? Even though we had these feelings of apprehension we knew we would easily adapt as we had before, so we started to become excited about the prospect of having another baby.
I am a community midwife, so I often see pregnancies that end in miscarriage which made me apprehensive to tell many people about the pregnancy. We wanted to wait until the 12-week scan. I think we were also a little nervous about telling our families because this baby was unexpected, and we had told them we weren’t planning any more children. I had told a few work colleagues (it’s hard to keep a pregnancy secret from midwives) and one of my friends.
As we crept closer to the 12-week scan, I kept waiting for my sickness and food aversions to start. I was terribly sick in my last two pregnancies and could not bear to enter the kitchen, however this pregnancy was totally different. As a midwife I rationalised that every pregnancy is different, exactly what I would tell the women I care for, but I couldn’t help that niggling feeling that told me something wasn’t normal.
The day of the 12-week scan came. Myself and my Husband sat in the waiting room, joking about how we would inform our families, picturing their reactions. We thought about how our two children would take the news. Evelyn was too young, but Arthur would be excited at the prospect of another sister or a brother. Strangely, even though I had had those niggling feelings earlier on, I did not feel nervous about the scan. I remember feeling relief that I had made it to the scan. I was not expecting what was to come.
I remember seeing our baby on the screen, their heart beating. The sonographer gave the estimated due date of 8th March 2023. But as I continued to look at our beautiful baby, I got a horrible sinking feeling (sometimes it is a curse being in the profession I am, I know too much). I realised my baby’s head did not look normal and I remember hoping it was just a weird angle, but when the sonographer was still scanning the head intensely, I knew. She stopped the scan and said, “I am sorry, but we need to talk about your baby’s head”. I immediately said “they have Anencephaly, don’t they?” She confirmed that is what she suspected was wrong with our baby.
She gave us a few moments in another room and arranged our fetal medicine appointment. I explained to my husband what Anencephaly was and that our baby could not survive, and that now we would be given a choice to stop the pregnancy continuing. After that I broke down. My last two pregnancies had been normal, why wasn’t this one? Was it my fault because we were initially apprehensive about it? I couldn’t process what was going on. The fetal medicine appointment was two day later, an age away. I sobbed on the phone to my mum confessing that I was expecting a baby, but they have found Anencephaly. I felt so broken.
The next two days past in a blur. Even though I knew the diagnosis from the sonographer was correct I couldn’t help but pray that she was wrong and the consultant would scan me and say all was well and let us go on our way. Instead, we got confirmation that baby had Acrania, the precursor to Anencephaly. We were told what I already knew, that our “baby was incompatible with life” and that their brain had not formed correctly. We knew the choice we had to make (it wasn’t really a choice). Our baby would die no matter what we chose, and we did not want them to suffer. We chose to end the pregnancy. I took the tablet then and there and was told to come back two days later to the Forget Me Not rooms in the delivery suite.
I have never feared labour, but I was petrified about what was going to happen. Even though I am a midwife I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Two days later I was admitted and given a pessary. Around 6pm I had a very large gush of blood. We decided to videocall our children to say goodnight as we knew we wouldn’t be able to soon. At 19.55 26th August 2022, our little baby was born asleep at 12 weeks 2 days. I sobbed when they were born and my heart broke. This is not how I had envisioned my pregnancy to end. I had imagined a lovely homebirth and a surprise gender and now that was all gone. Instead, I was left with this gaping hole inside me.
I now understand why they say you don’t truly understand baby loss unless you experience it for yourself. Every day is hard. We both try to maintain normality for our other two children, but it is exhausting. We have found some positive things to remember our baby by. We bought a Rose Plant called Peace and plan to create a little area of our garden in remembrance for them. The service for our baby is on 18th October, just after Baby Loss Awareness Week. We chose a communal cremation; it gives me some comfort to know that my baby isn’t alone and with other babies that could not stay.