Shell’s story

In May 2022 we started our IVF journey which, apart from a few hiccups, went seamlessly and we had five top grade embryos. We had a frozen transfer in August 2022 and were completely overwhelmed to find out we were pregnant!

After a bleed 2 weeks after our transfer, an early scan at 8 weeks with the clinic confirmed the pregnancy was viable so we told family and close friends and started buying things for our little baby. We were counting down till the 12-week scan until we were in the ‘safe zone’ so we could announce our pregnancy! 

There we were at our 12-week scan on 12 October, waiting in the waiting room, trying to fill my bladder up with endless cups of water so we could get the clearest imagine of our little baby on the screen, and then we were up! I remember lying on the bed and looking at our little baby on the screen and feeling anxious as the silence grew longer. Then the sonographer said she didn’t want to be silent any longer and that she had concerns about the development of the baby’s head. I instantly started to cry not knowing what this meant. I thought about everything and nothing all at the same time and as we were guided to a room with ‘counselling room’ on the door, I knew that things really weren’t okay. 

We sat there for what felt like an eternity until we met our incredible nurse from the fetal medical team called Elaine. Elaine went on to echo the concerns of the development of our baby’s head but asked us to come back in the following day so we could be seen and scanned by a consultant. I remember asking whether I should prepare myself for the worst and if the findings on the scan could be wrong, and Elaine explained they were pretty sure it was something called anencephaly but they would need a second scan to confirm. 

Our world stopped in that moment. I remember getting in the car with my husband to drive home and we pulled up into a housing estate to make the phone calls to family who were messaging to see how we had got on and asking if everything was okay as we hadn’t replied sooner. That was the start of difficult phone calls as our pregnancy journey from that point looked very, very different to how we imagined. 

We were met by Elaine the following day and moved straight into the counselling room until the consultant was ready. Off we went for the second scan which confirmed our worst fears, it was anencephaly and the condition for our baby was fatal. 

We knew our fate but every single moment I had with him was worth the absolute heartbreak because it means those moments happened and I will take them with me for the rest of my life. 

We were given all the options on how the pregnancy could be managed and told that we could end the pregnancy if we chose to. This was not a choice any parent should have to make and I was not ready to let my baby go. We chose to continue the pregnancy and got booked in for regular scans because of the increased risk of ‘nature taking its course’. Each time I went for a scan, I would smile away at the screen as my baby moved about and crossed their little legs, I always forgot in those moments why I was there and just focused on me and my baby. 

We decided that whilst our baby was safe inside, we wanted to make as many memories as possible. We wanted to find out their sex, have a 4D scan, get a heartbeat teddy bear and feel them move. We were able to do this and the 4D scan confirmed we were having a baby boy, a bittersweet moment I will never forget. 

I was so glad that I got to have all of those moments plus one Christmas with my baby boy. It was such a hard time, but my boy let me know he was there when he started to do summersaults on Christmas Eve! 

I went for one of my regular scans on Tuesday 3rd January 2023 and there he was, kicking away with his strong heartbeat. I lay in bed that night and he was so active; I was smiling through the tears. Fast forward to 6 January and I was back with Elaine having an unplanned scan because I hadn’t felt him move since that Tuesday night. I was trying to convince myself so much that I was being paranoid whilst Elaine was squeezing my hand and the scan confirmed there was no heartbeat. I broke down and went into complete panic mode. I found myself back in the counselling room discussing the next set of options and decided to induce the labour on 8 January as I didn’t want my baby boy to suffer. He had stayed with me all this time and I wanted to let him rest. 

I gave birth to my sleeping baby boy Lenny at 4.50 am on 9 January 2023 and he was just perfect. 

I will never forget the first time I held him, it was the happiest yet saddest I have ever been in my life, knowing that he was here but not in the way he should have been. I was so incredibly proud of him for staying with me for so long. I gave birth at 25+3 weeks and for every single one of those days my baby boy looked after me and gave me a reason to keep going. We knew our fate but every single moment I had with him was worth the absolute heartbreak because it means those moments happened and I will take them with me for the rest of my life. 

My Lenny chose me to be his mummy and I will be forever grateful that he is mine. With aching arms, I am the proudest mummy in the world and I will be forever heartbroken that he couldn’t stay with me.