Thursday, 6 September 2018

#StillOurBaby Lenny.

Another beautiful Still Our Baby story. This story is from Natalie, who is sharing her precious little boy Lenny.
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Lenny Stephen Cross is our first son. He was born on 1st August 2014 at 25 weeks and 3 days and lived for a very short 10 hours. This is our story. 

Lenny was due in November 2014. When I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited about spending our first Christmas as a family of 3. I imagined all the cute festive outfits I would dress him in and all the memories we would make in our new house together. I found the start of my pregnancy pretty easy. All my scans showed a healthy baby and we found out early on at a private gender scan that he was a he! We started buying bits and bobs for him and making a collection in his nursery. We were so excited. 

It all started to go wrong when I hit 25 weeks. Completely out of nowhere I started having contractions. I spent a few days in hospital until they decided that I wasn’t actually in labour and sent me back home. Unfortunately, when I was at home my waters broke. We rushed back to hospital, where I had to have an emergency c-section as Lenny was breech. 

The EMCS was the most traumatic experience of my life. It felt very panicked and rushed and I lost lots of blood which caused me to pass out. I felt suffocated, very nauseous and very dizzy. It felt like people were jumping up and down on my chest. It took around an hour but felt like three. Lenny was born at 4.57am and let out a big cry, which was amazing and heart-breaking at the same time. He was taken straight to the neonatal care unit. At first it looked promising but then it all went downhill. They tried for a few hours to stabilise him but unfortunately his body just wasn’t ready for the world. They told us that there was nothing more they could do and asked if we were ready to say bye. They wheeled my bed up to him and my partner and I held him in our arms whilst they took the breathing tube out and he passed away.


Lenny was kept in a cool cot in a room next door to us so we could wheel him in whenever we wanted.Saying goodbye was sickening, I felt heartbroken and torn like I didn't want leave him, but by then his appearance was changing for the worse. I felt like I really needed to let him go so I could remember him as he was when he was born.


I was then discharged from the hospital. Everything seemed totally pointless when we went home. I just couldn’t believe I wasn’t pregnant anymore- but my saggy belly was a constant reminder. In the immediate days after having Lenny I couldn’t be bothered to do anything, even getting washed and dressed was too much effort. We did have so much support from the hospital, the community midwife and the bereavement midwife, but I really missed my Mum. She sadly died of cancer years before and she also went through the heartbreak of losing her first child. He was born with hydrocephalus and died within weeks. I really wanted to hear her wise words of support and comfort. She went on to have 3 children after my eldest brother and I needed to hear that there was some hope for us to get the family we so desperately wanted. 



We never found out why it happened which was agonising. I almost wanted them to find something wrong so I could ‘fix’ it before we started trying again. We were desperate for a baby but the bereavement midwife said they usually advise at least 3 months before trying again. Three months seemed like a lifetime to me. I felt so scared that having conceived Lenny so easily before must've been a fluke and all of a sudden I felt inadequate and like my body was a massive failure. I spent the next year raising £3,323.36 for SANDS in memory of Lenny. We had donations and a family fun day. I then fell pregnant with my little rainbow. Fortunately my pregnancy with Denzel, whilst utterly terrifying, was mercifully plain sailing. He was born by elective section at 39 weeks. After Denzel was born I decided to set up The Little Lenny Company in Lenny’s memory. I really love seeing his name out there. 


We’ll always talk about him and not a day goes by when we don’t love and miss our first son. Thanks for reading.
Natalie xx

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Thank you so much Natalie for being a part of this series and for sharing Lenny with us. You can find The Little Lenny Company here.

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Six Months.

Image from Google

We're somehow six months on since Jonah's birth. It's hard to describe this feeling. It feels as though he was only born yesterday, but then it feels so long ago. I hate that the further away from January we get, the further away it is since I last held him in my arms. It truly has been the hardest six months of our lives. 

But I've also learnt a lot about myself and life after loss. I've learnt that six months is no time at all, on this grief journey. But that it also feels like a huge milestone. That it doesn't get better, but it slowly gets easier. And that some days will still knock the wind out of your sails and that's okay. On those days, I just need to take a breather and allow myself to feel what I need to feel, to survive. 

I'm no longer the person I was 6 months ago. I'm a mother of two but having to learn to parent a baby that isn't here. I haven't had to juggle night feeds, with looking after a toddler. Instead I've learnt that I have had to accept that going to the crematorium is going to be a part of my two year olds life. That death will be something that is discussed openly and that she will see her parents cry inconsolably about the loss of her brother. 

I watch pregnant ladies and newborns through a different pair of eyes. I imagine what my life would be like if Jonah were alive. I long for that feeling of him kicking me or to hear his heart beat again. I find myself staring at babies and imagine what Jonah would look like or what he would be learning to do. And then my heart breaks all over again, knowing we will never know who he would have been. I've learnt to block feelings out because sometimes it's just too much. I still long for those new born cuddles and would give anything to be kept up all night with a not so tired baby. I guess that's something you don't realise about baby loss, the want for a baby never goes away, even in the darkest days. 

The biggest hurdle to get over now is dealing with the daily flashbacks from the trauma I experienced. Living with PTSD means my anxiety can go into overdrive at any moment. There are many triggers that are pretty unavoidable, like the sight and sound of an ambulance, doctors or hospital appointments, anything hospital related on the TV or radio - that kind of thing. I can be taken back to that night, in a second. I'm lying on my bathroom floor, soaked in blood. Or I'm in the hospital with not even the strength to roll over. And then the weakness comes over me, as if the blood is draining out of my body all over again. Somedays I'm so exhausted by my thoughts, it's as if I've not slept for weeks, yet I have to somehow keep living my "normal" life. 

People say they don't know how I do It, or I'm so brave, but I have no choice. And then others think I should be over it by now. When you lose a child, you will never be over it. When you've experienced such a life changing event, you will never be over it. Most people are lucky enough, to never have to fight for their lives, to come so close to no longer being here. Most people are lucky enough to only ever see someone in a coma on TV. That's not our reality. There is no happy ending to this story, I can't just switch over the channel when I've had enough. This is my life and somedays it's just relentless. 

But some days are better. I see the beauty in everything now. It's like my eyes have been opened a little more, to see the little things around me. I will always spot a butterfly dancing around or be able to pick out the prettiest of flowers - after speaking to a few baby loss mamas, this seems like a common theme. We're suddenly able to appreciate the little things in life, in a completely different way. And I guess that's something to take from all this. The sun still rises and the days continue, whether you do or not. And despite everything, I want to be a part of this world and share my story. Because it might not be beautiful or have the fairy tale ending, but it's my story and it needs to be heard. 

Katie xx
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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

#StillOurBaby Carys.

Another beautiful #StillOurBaby story, from the lovely Megan and her precious little girl Carys. Megan discusses life in NICU and parenting after neonatal loss. An incredibly inspiring story.

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A special thank you to Katie for letting me share Carys’ story. 
My name is Megan, and I am the mum of Carys, our little Sleeping Beauty.
I found out I was pregnant back in 2015, totally unplanned and thrown into a world of decisions and life changes I was in no way prepared for. It was terrifying, but the moment I saw that tiny being growing inside me on the 12 week scan, nothing else mattered. I was going to protect that little human from all the bad things this world threw our way, and I was going to love them more than anything else. The pregnancy went pretty smoothly; the 20 week scan came around fairly quickly and we were both over the moon when the sonographer scanning me said that our little girl was healthy and doing well. I excitedly told family and friends that I was expecting a girl and started to plan properly for this new exciting adventure. However, this normal, ‘easy’ pregnancy all ended very abruptly on the 5thOctober 2015. Her movements had reduced, and they weren’t as strong, and I started to question if something wasn’t quite right. So, on my lunch break from work, a friend drove me to the hospital to get checked over. Little did we know that we wouldn’t be going back to work after lunch, and I was about to give birth, 13 weeks early. Within an hour or so of being at the hospital, we were rushed into surgery, and she was born. 
Carys Aurora Greasley, was born at 15:16 on the 5thOctober 2015, weighing a tiny 1lb 3oz. She didn’t cry, she struggled to breathe alone, but she was alive. They let me see her briefly before they took her up to the neonatal unit, and I just couldn’t quite believe that I had made her, she was so perfect and tiny. Later that evening, when I was in slightly less shock and had told my family we were both okay, Carys’ dad (Patrick) and I were both taken to meet our little love properly for the first time, and it was without a doubt one of the best moments of our story. She was covered in tubes, and wires and monitors, but she wriggled around with her little pink hat on, fist pumping the air and showing us both that she wasn’t giving up without a fight. The consultants were honest with us at this point, she was so much smaller than she should have been for 27 weeks and had obviously been struggling for a couple of weeks inside me, so the first 48 hours were touch and go. But she battled on. 
She overcame so many obstacles, defied all the odds week after week, and slowly started to grow and develop. Her personality shone through in every aspect of what she did, and I questioned on a daily basis how we had managed to make such an incredibly strong and brave human being. She was doing so well that she moved hospital to ensure we were closer to family. She moved out of intensive care, and there was even talk about the prospect of finally taking her home with me. 


On the 29thNovember 2015 though, our world was turned upside down once more. The hospital called to say Carys had taken a turn for the worse overnight, and they believed she had developed Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). I rushed to the hospital, feeling unimaginable guilt that I wasn’t there to hold her hand, watched as they prepped her for surgery, and watched as a crash team tried to save her. I couldn’t leave her, so I stood helplessly around a group of medics who frantically ran around trying to keep my tiny little 2lb baby alive. We held her as her heart took its final beats and prayed this wasn’t happening to us. We spent the rest of the day with her, had our only family photos as a family of three, and had close family come to support us. Then we left the hospital, with the boxes of her things, knowing we wouldn’t be returning the next day to see her bright blue eyes staring back at us from the incubator. 

Fast forward to now, and we are just over two and half years from that day. Memories of her scent, of her beautiful face, of her personality are captured in limited photos, and items of hers that are stored in a memory box, but most importantly in our minds. I am ashamed to say those memories aren’t as clear as they used to be, that I can’t remember the wrinkles on her forehead in as much detail as I could back then, but I guess that is the reality of time, memories always fade despite our best efforts to save them. I dream about her daily. I dream about the life I could have had with her, about the family we could have been. The waves of grief still hit me hard, and I can whole heartedly say that I will miss her till the end of time. 
Parenting a child that I no longer hold in my arms has been far from easy, but I imagine that she would have kept me on my toes if she had lived too. I have tried hard to keep her memory alive over the last few years, and we will continue to do this forever. We have raised money in her memory for Bliss and Sands, two charities that were incredible to us throughout Carys’ life on the neonatal unit, and in her passing. We held a charity event for her first birthday, held bake sales, have taken her on adventures, and Patrick has even run 8 half marathons in the last year to represent the 8 amazing weeks we had with her (actually 9 now, and he has the running bug too so there will be a lot more runs in her memory I imagine!). 


She helped me find my passion in clinical research, and I decided to carry out an MSc in her honour, dedicating my dissertation to her. I hope one day I can continue the research further. I hope one day that Carys' legacy will be the reason that care for infants at risk of NEC improves. It never quite seems enough though, I always feel like I am not doing enough for her, that she deserves more from me. I have felt immense pride, joy and love since Carys was born. She showed me what it feels like to love someone unconditionally, and it is a love stronger than I can ever explain. She showed me strength, bravery, and determination, and because of her I still wake up every day and survive.
I was told at the start of this journey that things would get easier, that over time that gut-wrenching pain would soften, and in some ways, it has. But there will forever be those days when we both sit there and question why. Grief still knocks us back, possibly catching us more off guard than in those earlier days. The reality of baby loss really is lifelong. We obviously miss those moments we physically shared with her, but my god do we miss the moments that we didn’t. The first walk, the first word, the first day at school, the graduations, the future - that’s our reality now, a lifetime of what ifs. 


Grief is forever a part of us now, just like Carys is. They will forever shape our lives, and she will forever be on our minds. Our little Briar Rose, our Sleeping Beauty for always. 
To see more of Carys' story and adventures:
IG: @CarysAurora
FB:@CarysAurora
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Thank you Megan, for sharing your beautiful Carys with us, such a special little girl. 

If you'd like to be a part of the #StillOurBaby series please contact me. 

Katie xx

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

#StillOurBaby Henry.

This week's #StillOurBaby is Georgia and Henry's story. Georgia discusses neonatal death and the aftermath of parenting a child that has died. This is so beautifully written, a real raw, honest account of life after loss. Please note this post contains images of precious Henry.

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I dedicate this to Henry, Jonah and every child ever missing from their parents' arms. 

Hi all, it's a real privilege to be included in the #StillOurBaby series. My experience of infant loss was the sudden and unexpected early neonatal death of my son Henry. I could easily talk about Henry all day so when Katie gave me the opportunity to tell his story I jumped at it. 
 On the 11th October 2017 after a quick, straightforward labour my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world. Henry was born calm, alert and apparently healthy. We were told we could take him home that same evening, our future looked bright. We had two normal hours together as a family of three when we noticed that Henry had became floppy, unresponsive and had stopped breathing. An emergency alarm sounded, a crash team filled the room and medics worked for over 30 minutes trying to save our son's life. As I sat amongst the commotion in that room a stone cold certainty came to me, life was never going to be the same again. A doctor spoke to us, they'd tried everything, there was nothing else they could do and they were going to stop resuscitation. Just like that the perfect little human I had birthed only hours before and who I loved more than anyone else the world was gone. Our son had died. 


It felt like a hole had opened up beneath me and I was free falling into a void. There really are no words to describe the pain of losing a child, it is utterly devastating. 
We spent that night in the hospital's bereavement suite. My husband's parents arrived in the early hours and sat vigil while we slept, my mum arrived a few hours later. We introduced Henry to his grandparents, held him, took his hand and foot prints, kissed him, told him we loved him and less than 24 hours after he was born had to give him to a stranger to be taken to a hospital in another city for his coroner ordered post-mortem. When he left that room it felt like all the colour left with him. Our bright future was suddenly dark. There was surely no way forward from this. 

Soon after Henry went away I developed sepsis and became quite ill. I didn't care. I saw this illness as a physical manifestation of the pain I felt inside and welcomed the softening of reality and my escape into delirium as my body fought the infection. I was in hospital for nine days, my husband by my side the whole time “we're going to get through this, for Henry” he'd tell me over and over again. His presence got me through. I thought about those two precious hours when our family had been complete. I held onto the memory of my husband holding our newborn son and the feeling that my heart would burst with love, remembered thinking as I'd looked at the two of them 'they are my world, my reason to be' and with that memory I felt a fire kindling in my soul. Things weren't going to be how we'd planned but they'd still be. I would survive this, if not for myself then for them. 

And so it began, my journey into motherhood. One I hadn't chosen and couldn't change. Those early days were incredibly dark. Lowering my son's coffin into a hole in the ground went against every maternal fibre in my body, how could I leave my son here? It was just all so wrong, it should have been him burying me in 50 or 60 years time. I wanted to go down there, scoop him up and never let him go. 


The parental instinct to protect a child doesn't die when they do and I still feel the need to mother my son, for me this means ensuring he is remembered. I fear that because Henry's life was short  he will be forgotten. I fear that the significance of his loss will not be acknowledged or understood. The grief of a baby isn't just for the life lost but the life not lived, Henry will be missing from every family meal, holiday and celebration forever, it is a grief that will last a lifetime. We live in a society that avoids difficult conversations and the death of a baby is one of the most difficult. People are unsure what to say or fear they'll hurt a parent by mentioning their dead child but as a parent desperate to talk about my child it hurts more when he's not acknowledged. By chance soon after Henry died I came across a community of bereaved parents openly talking about child loss on Instagram. As I read their experiences of grief and life after loss I recognised my own feelings. I started sharing Henry with them, his life and death, my highs, lows and strange moments in grief. I connected with mums and dads who had lost children at all stages of pregnancy and beyond, no two stories were the same but we were united by the shared experience of this alternative parenthood. In February I was invited to attend a bereavement care and reducing stillbirth conference. Listening to other parents talk about the work being done to break the taboo surrounding stillbirth and infant death was empowering and fed the fire in my soul. I came away from that day feeling inspired, determined to add my voice to those already talking and in March started blogging about my experience, sharing it for the first time with people outside the baby loss community. It's still early days for the blog but the response so far has been amazing. I hope it helps other parents feel less alone in their grief and provides advice to anyone supporting someone during the death of a child. I hope by adding my voice to those already talking about baby loss and grief the conversations will continue to grow, they're difficult conversation to have but it's important that we do. 

I'm now seven months into my parenting journey. Henry's post-mortem results came back with no known cause of death so I have no answers about why my seemingly healthy, full term baby died. An inquest into his death has been opened which is expected to take place later this year. My husband and I are slowly finding our new normal as we learn to parent our missing child. I don't know what the future will bring but I know my love for Henry will never dim and I'll never stop talking about him, the boy who made me a mother and lit the fire in my soul. Henry this is all for you darling. 
Georgia 
_abcdefgeorg on Instagram 
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Thank you again to Georgia for sharing Henry and life after loss. I am honoured to be able to share your story in the #StillOurBaby series. 


Katie xx
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Monday, 2 July 2018

Dear Jonathan.


Dear Jonathan,

I will never forget the look on your face when you walked into the bathroom that evening. The toilet already covered in blood but you somehow held it together and called an ambulance. You spent 45 minutes calmly talking to the lady and updating her. You arranged someone to sit with Violet and kept your cool, despite being terrified. You continued to try and make me smile, even when being rushed to hospital in the ambulance - both of us knowing this wasn't going to have a happy ending.

I will never forget waking up after surgery and seeing the relief on your face but also the fear, knowing what I was about to be told. You stayed with me every step of the way and I will be forever thankful that I was never alone in this.

You somehow organised child care for V, when I couldn't even string a sentence together. You made sure Jonah was always with you or with me. You got our families here and made sure everyone knew what had happened so I wouldn't be overwhelmed. Despite our world falling apart, you still managed to keep this family unit together. 

Thank you for holding me at 4am, when I just couldn't sleep or hold it together anymore. Thank you for always wiping my tears and thank you for giving me the space I need to grieve. Thank you for just knowing when I'm having a bad day, even without me saying a word. Thank you for crying with me and for not being afraid to talk about our baby boy with anyone that will listen. But most of all, thank you for loving me even though I am no longer the person I was when we met. 

This wasn't the life we had planned but it is our life. You are my rock, my soul mate and my best friend. You are the most incredible Daddy to Violet and to Jonah. And I know that you would do anything to make this better. 

I love you always and forever,

Katie xx


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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

#StillOurBaby Eli.

This week's #StillOurBaby comes from Stacy and her little boy Eli. This post contains photos of beautiful Eli. 

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We found out I was pregnant at exactly four weeks. We were both so excited, scared and nervous of course but ultimately happier than ever. Looking back now I say blissfully ignorant. At six weeks we saw a tiny little heartbeat after a bleeding scare and from that moment, I was in love. That natural instinct to love and protect was there from the very beginning. My first trimester was terrible, I suffered terribly with nausea and sickness but it was all working towards the end point of our baby so worth every second, although I had to remind myself of that several times a day!

Our 12 week scan went by without any problems and we announced our happy news via Facebook, My sickness and nausea started to ease off as I headed into the second trimester and we began buying a few little bits and pieces. Our 20 week scan we were told everything looked good and we had a very healthy baby boy growing away as he should be. We began thinking of names, trying to agree was really hard but we were not concerned as we had plenty of time to make a final decision. Eli was a firm favourite for us both from the beginning.

At 23 weeks 2 days pregnant I had some period type pain, I assumed it was ligament pain and took some paracetamol and carried on with my day. I had a Doppler and listened to our boy’s heartbeat that night, it was as strong as normal and he was doing his usual somersaults so I had no reason to be concerned in my mind. I woke up in the night with some strong pain again but this quickly subsided and I went back to sleep. When the pain was still happening the next day I phoned the on call midwife who said I needed to get checked out, although they didn’t think it was anything to worry about.

At around midday I headed to the hospital, my partner and I even joked in the car park that they were going to see me and tell me to piss off home and get on with being pregnant. We sit waiting for about half an hour to be seen and are eventually put on a bay with three other pregnant women.

They listened to his heartbeat which was fine and strong and then the trainee doctor examined me and took some swabs. He said he thought my cervix was open but no indication as to how much and that he would need to go and get the registrar. At this point I began to panic, the words cervix and open were ringing in my ears. The Registrar arrived and he examined me and again we are told that my cervix is open, but no indication as to how open, he talks about a stitch being possible some times depending on how open the cervix is and that he needs to get the consultant to examine me. At this point I lost my shit and really began to panic, turns out the pains I had been experiencing were actually contractions and I was in labour.

The Consultant came and said she needed to examine me, I asked if I could pop to the loo beforehand and when I came out they had moved us into a side room away from the ward. I knew then that it wasn’t good news. She examined me and while she was doing the examination she asked me about my contractions and the one I was currently having, I said I wasn’t having a contraction at that moment but she could feel it even though I couldn’t. She estimated I was around 8cms dilated already, and she told me that she couldn’t put a stitch in because I was contracting too much and my cervix was already open too far. So they admitted me and put on bed rest and if we made it to Friday without delivering then we would be moved to a hospital in the next County who can deal with very premature babies.

Monday night passed by in a bit of haze of hourly morphine and regular contractions, at one point they were every three minutes apart for quite a long time, but then they would drop back down to 15 mins apart. Tuesday morning I relented and took some codeine and proceeded to then chuck my guts up and was out of it for a couple of hours. They gave me the steroid injections for his lungs. Still no sleep since Saturday night by this point. Tuesday afternoon contractions slowed right down again and I went as long as 40 minutes between each one, I actually thought that we might make it to Friday and that golden signpost of 24 weeks that everyone kept talking about.

Around 6ish they picked right back up again and I couldn’t move for the pain, I was standing up which in hindsight didn’t help. I finally fell asleep for about 45 minutes, only for the battery in the tens machine to stop. My partner had just fallen asleep so I didn’t want to wake him by putting the light on, so off I went to the nurses station for more batteries and morphine. At this point my contractions picked up and were between 2-5 mins apart. About 5am I started on the gas and air, which was great for a while until it made me feel very sick! They moved me up to delivery at 8am, but I had to wait for the consultant to come around before they could make a decision on whether I should be pushing or not, by this point I hadn’t been able to wee for about four hours and I felt like my bladder was going to burst. The consultant came around at 9.45, she asked what position the baby was in, and no one had a clue as I hadn’t been scanned the whole time I was there. They quickly scanned me and it turned out he was already in the birth canal (hence not being able to pee due to the pressure) and my bladder was taking up most of the screen. They gave me magnesium sulphate (I think, I can’t remember the name) via cannula to protect the baby’s head. This took ten minutes to put in and it feels like your body is on fire from the inside out. Once that was in I started pushing. After about 20 mins of pushing my waters went and I again lost my shit and announced I couldn’t do it any more but my mum, partner and the midwife spurred me on, 10 Minutes later Eli was born at 11.33am.


He was taken and wrapped in plastic and put on the neonatal incubator where there were several doctors and nurses waiting. They attempted to give him oxygen but his heart rate kept dropping and after five long agonising minutes in which I allowed myself to believe he was going to make it, the consultant told us they could go no further. My heart broke as we held our darling boy until he peacefully passed away.

I think this is by far the hardest thing I’ll ever have to write and post. I feel that there isn’t a lot out there in terms of people’s raw experiences that bring them to this point and that’s why barring a few graphic details I have tried to write it all down here. This was the worst moment of my life, that doesn’t mean I want to forget or pretend it didn’t happen. I want to talk about it. I want Eli’s only living moments on this earth to be remembered. I want people to feel like it is ok to talk about their baby loss in all it’s heartbreaking, earth shattering, gory detail. 

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Thank you so much Stacy, for writing and sharing Eli's story. Such a honest and raw post. You can find Stacy on Instagram @StacyIqbal. 

If you'd like to be a part of the #StillOurBaby series, please get in touch. 

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Grey Area: Pregnancy Loss 20-24 Weeks.

Image from Google

The grey area. That's where us parents of babies lost between 20-24 weeks live. We don't fit into any box. Our babies are not legally classed as 'stillborn' but in my eyes you don't have a funeral for a miscarriage. Our babies were born either naturally or via c-section, more often than not on a delivery suite, just like those at full term. Yet there is no legal record of them ever existing. We didn't get a birth or death certificate and we didn't get to register Jonah. I was 17 days away from viability, 17 days away from being able to document that our baby was a part of this world. That's why for me, it's so important to keep saying his name. 

Losing Jonah so close to the 24 week mark is incredibly tough. Being so close to a big milestone, actually felt achievable despite a difficult pregnancy. I know the chances of survival at 24 weeks are slim, but it would have given us some hope. It would have meant Jonah would have been delivered earlier in the evening and I may not have had to endure such trauma from excessive blood loss. 

And then there is the practical side of losing a baby before 24 weeks. I carried Jonah for five and half months. That took it's toll on my physical and mental health.  The anxiety around this pregnancy was beyond anything I'd ever experienced. My bump was getting bigger and bigger and therefore making an impact of my hips and back. I then gave birth via a c-section and had major abdominal surgery. Yet I wasn't entitled to any maternity leave, not one day. 

I spend my time trying to find a group that I belong to. It turns out, I don't really belong to any. Losing a baby between 20-24 weeks is rare, in fact it's less than 2 in 1000 pregnancies. Then I add the hysterectomy factor in - that's even less people. I have yet to find anyone in the UK that has been through a similar experience. My grey area, gets even bigger. 

I can't join in conversations about the relationships between siblings. I can't discuss how many children I'd like to have in the future. I have to walk away when I overhear conversations about pregnancy or newborns at play groups. I so desperately want people to know I've given birth and had a baby this year, but of course, nobody ask about him. But why would they? They don't know he existed. I'm now the mother that avoids conversations at toddler groups and hangs out with the grandparents where it tends to be a little 'safer'. 

I can't enter discussions about rainbow babies or pregnancy after loss either. I don't belong in the group of ladies trying to conceive after the unimaginable. Every bit of hope was taken from us, when my womb was taken. We're stuck in this no man's land, just trying to survive.

Maybe one day the grey will become a little clearer and we will finally belong somewhere. But for now we will continue to try and find the club we belong to.

A little link to some research and advice for pregnancy loss between 20-24 weeks.

Katie xx

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#StillOurBaby Gabriel.

The third in #StillOurBaby series comes from Anna and discusses termination for medical reasons. This is beautiful Gabriel's story. 

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Those seven words that I will never forget “I’m sorry, there’s a problem with baby.” Even now I can still picture that moment, the moment my world changed forever. Then came a flurry of appointments, words like “termination”, “fetocide” and worst of all, “your baby is unlikely to survive the rest of your pregnancy”. This can’t be happening, not to me, not to us… heartbreaking, anguished phone calls…

“It’s done,” she said as she injected potassium into his heart to stop it beating. I lay there, numb. My husband was quiet. Another scan moments later, screens off, confirmed it. He was gone. His tiny heart was no longer ticking inside me. His movements stopped.

We were numb. My baby was in there still, where he should be… but he had died. He was dead.


“Baby mummy?” My son asked.

“No angel,” I managed, “baby gone…”


Two days later, he was born. His entrance was rapid and unbearable. I was panic stricken. We were in the bereavement suite, watching Netflix.


“I’m pushing I think,” I said panicked and woozy from the gas and air, “I don’t know… I’m frightened.”

“Don’t be frightened,” my midwife soothed as the agony took over.


Two pushes and I knew he was there.

“The pain has gone,” I told her.

“It comes in waves,” she said gently, “you know that.”

“I’m wet.”

“I’ll have a look under the sheet, if I see baby is coming I will press this button for some help…” she lifted the sheet, “baby is here,” she said gently, pressing the button. The shaking began. I felt sick. They took him away, wrapped in a towel.


It was bizarre. Even though I knew he was dead, I felt the usual rush of post birth emotion, I wanted to meet him, I was almost excited, happy… I went to the loo to clean up. I stripped my wet bed.


We wanted to see him. I hadn’t known up til then if I wanted to or not, but I did. We sat together on the sofa bed and they brought him in. I asked not to see his defects. He was dressed in a tiny pale green cardigan, a hat, and tucked under a gorgeous blanket with little lady birds on it.


“Hello Gabriel,” I said softly, not knowing what to do. He lay in a tiny Moses basket. So peaceful. She showed us his feet which she thought were gorgeous. We stroked his little face. Delicate, soft, cold. I was so pleased to see him. My tiny boy, perfectly imperfect.


“Can you take him?” I asked her, “I don’t want to see him when his colour has gone…” I’m a nurse, I know what happens. She nodded, and he was gone.


My husband slept. I lay awake listening to the screams of some woman elsewhere on the delivery suite, wishing I could swap with her, wishing she knew what was going on in our room. Our midwife apologised.


The screaming stopped. Her baby was here. Her baby would be wriggling, nuzzling in to her, clutching her fingers. My baby was cold. My baby was dead. My much wanted, longed for second son. Loved from the moment those two lines appeared.


We left early in the morning. I had to do it quickly, like ripping off a plaster. The thought of leaving my beautiful boy with strangers threatened to tear my heart in two.


We had a memory box from the hospital, photos, candles… footprints. But no baby. No car seat to wrestle in to the car. No balloons from excited visitors.


We went home as if nothing had happened, I had the usual after effects, bleeding, pain… but no baby to show for it. My head went in to meltdown, tormented with grief, guilt, isolation.  My best friend arranged Gabriel’s cremation, made sure he had the bunny we had bought him with him at all times. I had one to match. I squeezed it tight, when I needed it, hoping he could feel my cuddle too. The funeral directors were kind, they looked after him when I couldn’t. They kept him safe.

And then I realised. He was gone. I was empty.

Image of Gabriel's Bunny

There is only one way to end the stigma of termination for medical reasons. Talk about it. Raise awareness. It happens so much more than you realise. I felt so alone… and then I spoke to someone else going through the same thing and the relief was enormous. We held hands through our grief. Even on the darkest days, I know she understands.


My darling boy. My angel. I hope your bunny is giving you cuddles the way I should be. I hope someone is caring for you, wherever you are. I hope that. I don’t believe it, but I hope that.


You sit in an urn by my bed. It feels better to have you home with me. I stroke our matching bunny.


The milestones are coming… I dread them. I think of you every day, my beautiful boy. I am now used to being in pain. It overwhelms me.


But you were born. You are our son. And I miss you, sweet boy.

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Thank you Anna for sharing your heart wrenching story and for helping break the silence around TMFR and baby loss. 

Katie xx
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