Monday, 19 March 2018

Jonah's Birth Story: Stillborn at 21+4 Weeks.

I'm sat up in bed at 6:30am on a Monday morning, attempting to start writing down Jonah's birth story. It's long and far from glamorous and I'm not entirely sure how long this will take me to write down. Please be warned, this isn't a magical birth story. There is no Hypnobirthing or wonderful water birth. It's real and raw, there is lots of blood and I'm not going to apologise for saying it how it was. This is how my precious boy arrived in the world, and he deserves me to tell the story the way it happened. Because if I could have changed the outcome, I would have in a heartbeat. 

I'd had a pretty regular, quiet Monday. V and I had been to Parent and Toddler group that morning, as it meant I could spend two hours sitting and she could wear herself out. We went home, Violet napped while I rested on the bed. Fast forward to 8pm. Again, I was lying on the bed (apparently I did a lot of that during this pregnancy), watching Grey's Anatomy. A few minutes into the episode, I turned to Jonathan and said "I'm bleeding". I had been spotting the whole way through but this felt a trickle, much like a period, so knew immediately and rushed to the bathroom. I then had a large gush of blood, much like the bleed I'd had at 18 weeks.  Jonathan called Triage and I somehow calmly, managed to speak to the midwife who had asked if Jonathan could bring me in. I agreed and put down the phone.

A few seconds later, another gush of blood, this time with clots and I vividly remember this weakness suddenly rushing over me. I could no longer physically sit up properly and had resorted to resting my head against the wall, whilst still sat on the toilet. Of course, the next step was to ring 999 and get an ambulance. The operator advised getting me onto the floor, so I laid on several towels, for 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. During this time I'd soaked through them, but could still feel Jonah moving around and I had no pain at all. 

The paramedics put up some fluids and managed to get me up into a chair and carried me down the stairs to the ambulance. It was the longest journey to the hospital I've ever had, despite being blue lighted in. The paramedics estimated around a 2 litre blood loss at home. I specifically remember them saying "we're going straight to delivery because she's over 20 weeks". We arrived at maternity and I was wheeled on the stretcher to Central Delivery Suite.

By this point, the bleeding had calmed and was more like a heavy period. I was greeted by several midwives and Drs, who brought in the portable scanner to see what was going on. I knew Jonah was fine even before they scanned, and sure enough there he was kicking away on the screen. At this point, they diagnosed Complete Placenta Previa (I will go into all these conditions properly at another  date), this diagnosis was different from 18 weeks and meant the placenta had moved further down into an undesirable location. As soon as I was settled on the ward, Jonathan was sent home.

At 4am, I began to bleed again. I soaked through the bed sheets and my gown, but the bleed seemed much less than the previous one. I passed several small clots but nothing significant. I was given two units of blood and some more fluids to ensure my blood pressure wasn't dropping too low. The now familiar, weakness came over me. I vomited several times and remember not feeling like I could physically even roll over. I was nil by mouth and was shouting "I'm thirsty" over and over again - of course I was, I'd lost a lot of fluid. Jonathan was on his way back to the hospital and arrived during all the chaos. I specifically remember the midwife saying "if you were over 24 weeks pregnant, they would have got him out by now", this is something that has played on my mind over and over again. The bleeding slowed down and I attempted to get some rest, hoping the worst was over. 

A few hours later, at 7:45am, the bleeding began again. This time the bleed was huge. Like nothing I'd ever seen before. The bedding was soaked and it was just coming and coming. I felt like I was in a bubble, with all these people rushing around me, lifting my legs and putting more blood and fluids up. This is where everything becomes a little patchy and surreal. I was in and out of consciousness due to the blood loss, but told I was being taken to theatre so they could manage the situation more effectively. I was wheeled around to theatre and surrounded by 15-20 medical professionals, each trying to tell me what was happening and inserting more lines into my veins to ensure they could give me everything they needed to. The blood was still coming, clots the size of my fist were being passed over and over again. I was told we were waiting for the surgeon to arrive and he would explain what was going to happen during surgery. At this point, I knew Jonah would be born in the next few hours.

Around me were anaesthetists, doctors, midwives, nurses, but I remember one specifically. She held my hand, looked me in the eye and said "all of these people are here to save your life, you are going to be okay". I was asked to sign a consent form for the surgery and the consultant arrived and explained that they needed to get Jonah out as quickly as possible and that a c-section was the only option at this time. I nodded and signed the form. The last thing I said before being put to sleep was "I'm frightened, I need to see my little girl", I whole heartedly believe Violet is the reason I pulled through and I'm sat here today.

Surgery was predicted to last 90 minutes, I woke up five hours later. This is when I realised something massive had happened in theatre. At 8:50am on 30th January, Jonah George Atkinson was born sleeping peacefully weighing 13oz.

Unfortunately, surgery hadn't gone as smoothly as predicted. The surgeon was unable to stop the bleeding from my placenta, which had grown through the uterine wall and attached itself to my previous c-section scar. This was the rare diagnosis of placenta percreta, the most severe form of placenta accreta (I will do a whole post on this at some point). After attempting to stop the bleeding with the usual methods, they were left with no choice but to do a hysterectomy.

In total I lost around 9 litres of blood. I received 16 pints of blood - twice the amount in your body, 2 bags of plasma and 2 bags of platelets. I was put in an induced coma for two hours, whilst I was stabilised before being taken to the high dependency unit for 24 hours. I have been told by lots of the staff from theatre, that I am very lucky to be alive.

The rest of my stay in hospital was spent in a private room back on Central Delivery Suite. We were incredibly lucky to have a cold cot, which meant Jonah could stay with us for the whole time I was in hospital. I am so thankful for those days, so we could make some memories and spend some time with our precious little boy. I will forever be thankful to the bereavement midwife who pushed us to have some photos with Jonah from medical photography, we now have a very special album of his pictures. We were also given a memory box from a charity called 4Louis, which allowed us to have hand and foot prints done.

Leaving delivery suite without your baby, is hands down the worst thing anyone can ever have to do. A midwife walked us out to the car and suddenly reality hit that I didn't get to take Jonah home. Our family will always have an empty chair at the table, a missing piece. Violet's little brother will forever be in our hearts but not our arms. But I'm going to do absolutely everything in my power to make sure Jonah's name is spoken and his memory is kept alive. I will make you proud little man, I promise.

Katie xx



  1. I have no words Katie, but I'm sending you and your family so much love ♥

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Yours and Jonah's story is beautifully written and so emotive. A credit to your strength of character.
    Wishing you peace and love 🖤

  3. Sending big hugs. I am so, so sorry. Thinking of you and your family x

  4. I cannot even begin to imagine what you have been through. I did not want to read and not leave a comment sending you massive hugs and thanking you for having the courage for sharing your story. x

  5. I am so, so sorry. thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I am so incredibly sorry for the loss of your precious boy Jonah, I can't even imagine the heartbreak. Sending you and your family lots of love x

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