Monday, 15 October 2018

BLAW - Tate.

On the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week, we have Sarah and Tate's story. Sarah shares her experience with a rare condition called Vasa Praevia. 

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It was finally here! My last day of work before starting maternity leave! It was Friday 16thOctober 2015. I was 36 weeks pregnant and oh how I had longed for this day for the past month. I’d had pretty impressive Braxton Hicks for a while now and for the past week was convinced I was losing my mucous plug, in fact, only the day before I had expressed my concerns about this to my midwife who just brushed it off as end of pregnancy incontinence (Oh the joys!).

My Baby Shower 11th October 2015

I’d hopped on the bus to go into work and as I sat down I felt a bit of a pop inside and something warm and wet between my legs ‘this is it’ I thought excitedly, my waters have gone! And on the bus! What a funny story to tell at the baby’s 18thbirthday party! I got my phone out and text my mum as I felt more fluid pool, both she and my partner Andy planned to be there at the birth, I thought I would wait until I got to work to give Andy a call, it would be fine and plus, I didn’t want to announce to the bus full of people that I thought my waters had just broken! I felt the baby move, but it was a soft kind of half-hearted attempt at a movement which made me feel uneasy. This wasn’t what his usual movements felt like. He was strong and packed one hell of a kick and I’d googled many times if baby kicks can give you internal bruising. Something was wrong. 
By the time I hurried off the bus I could feel more of what I thought were my waters trickling down my legs, luckily the bus stop is directly opposite my work place and I rushed into the building and got myself into the lift. I finally looked down. Big, large drops of fresh red blood were dripping down onto the floor and my bright green dress had turned crimson from the waist down. 
My pregnancy had been pretty text book, apart from a large bleed at the beginning which I had mistaken for my period. I had just come off my pill the month before so I didn’t know my cycles properly and just assumed I’d come on my period. It wasn’t until about 10 days later did I suddenly think to take a pregnancy test. I was doing our weekly shop fighting waves of heartburn and nausea and I just didn’t quite feel ‘right’. It was the first time I’d ever peed on a stick and I genuinely could not believe it when a strong second line appeared! I had no idea how far along I could be due to the large bleed and the strong test line and lack of proper periods to go by. A quick call to my GP and I was up at MAU a few days later having a scan. Suddenly I was looking at this tiny little flickering blob on a computer screen. I was 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant and the little blob had a heartbeat already. We were told it was a threatened miscarriage and the sonographer explained that she could see where the baby had tried to implant higher up in my womb but had bumped all the way down to the bottom which is what had caused the bleed. Somehow the little blob had managed to hold on though and going forward I had a relatively un-complicated pregnancy. 
We found out he was a boy quite early on. My local hospital a teaching hospital and a friend of mine told me about a study they were doing to look at the growth of babies. It basically meant that I got lots of extra scans (3D ones at that!) and they said if they were to ever find anything that might raise any concern they would refer me for the extra additional care that I or the baby would need. At 16 weeks my little man quite proudly showed off all his bits to a room full of people including my parents! We wanted to keep his sex a surprise for everyone so denied all knowledge of seeing a penis and instead claimed it was umbilical cord to keep everyone guessing! It was at this point that I knew his name would be Tate. 
At our 20 weeks scan I was told, just in passing that I had a low lying placenta but it was fine and that most of them move up and I would have another scan to confirm that it had moved at 32 weeks. The 32 week scan came around and it confirmed that my placenta had indeed managed to move. It was 2.5cm away from my cervix and all was well. Apart from the sonographer mentioning that my placenta was a bit odd looking and had something ‘dangling down’ at the side. She wasn’t at all concerned about this though and didn’t write anything on my notes about it either. All was fine, I was OK’d for a vaginal birth and the rest was just a waiting game! 
Back in the lift I started to panic, I got to my floor and ran down the corridor. No one was in yet, it was still early. I finally found a light on in an office and barged through the door screaming for help. Someone was there and I asked her to call an ambulance. The bleeding was getting worse and I was suddenly worried about the mess I was leaving on the floor. I knew that the disabled toilet was a wet room so I settled myself in there, slumped in the corner and tried to call Andy. No reply. I called him 40 times in the space of a few minutes, still no reply. I sat there and watched as blood pooled around me, there was nothing I could do to stop it, it came out in waves and gushes and was all around me. 
The paramedics arrived soon after the 999 call. They asked me lots of different questions, how far apart were my contractions (I wasn’t having any!), how bad was the pain (I wasn’t in any pain!) and when was the last time I had felt the baby move. It had been nearly half an hour since that last movement on the bus. I was still bleeding heavily and the paramedics were in the process of moving me onto a trolley when I finally got through to Andy and told him my mum was on the way to pick him up and that he needed to go home and get my maternity notes. 
My boss came with me to hospital. She listened to me saying ‘no, no, I’m sure I’ll be ok’ nodded her head and jumped in the back of the ambulance holding my hand. I’d never been in an ambulance before, let alone an ambulance racing through the streets with the blue lights on and sirens whirling. The Midwifes took one look under the blanket covering my bottom half at MAU and sent my directly to delivery suite. Everything happened so quickly, the on-call Consultant came swooping in with a portable ultrasound machine and detected a heartbeat of 150bpm almost straight away. The relief! My baby was OK! My joy was short lived. The Consultant had grave concerns, he could see that not enough blood was being pumped though my baby’s heart. It was then that he diagnosed a ruptured Vasa Praevia. The bleeding was not coming from me, it was coming from my baby and he was dying. He then told me that he would be delivering my baby immediately and went to prep for surgery. Andy and my mum still hadn’t arrived, and it was my boss, who called them to say I was being taken into theatre and the baby was coming. She was then given a hair net and robes and bundled into the operating theatre with me, she held my hand again, told me I was being so brave and watched as my son was born. 
It was 9.29am when they lifted him up over the sheet and said ‘congratulations, you have a son’ I couldn’t believe he was here! How quick was that? 17 minutes after I was told I’d be having a C Section I was a mother! Tate Stuart Woodman Taylor, born at 36 weeks 6lb 4oz. Stuart – My Dad’s name, I always knew if I ever had a son I would name him after my Dad. And Woodman – a family name given to the first born son in each generation of Andy’s family. Straight away I thought the baby looked a bit pale, in fact not just pale. He was white. And he wasn’t crying. He was taken over to the other side of the room and I couldn’t see what was happening. What I now know is the anaesthetist purposefully stood in the way so I didn’t have to see so many people working on my tiny little baby desperately trying to resuscitate him. In the midst of all the commotion, Andy was thrown into the operating theatre. They hadn’t really planned this and the entrance to the room was down at the ‘business end’ so unfortunately he saw them pulling out my placenta before being told not to look and ushered over to my head. 
11 long minutes passed before we finally heard a tiny little cry. Andy was then invited over to meet his son. I got to see a glimpse of him and touch him before they whisked him off to NICU. 
Meeting Tate

During the following hours and days I was in an utter state of shock. What had actually just happened to us? To my son and would he be ok? That was a question that no one currently knew the answer to. Tate received 2 full blood transfusions in theatre after he was resuscitated and even more blood once he got to NICU he was currently being cooled to try and prevent any brain damage. This is when I learnt all about Vasa Praevia, a condition that I had never heard of but that had just changed my life.  
Vasa Praevia (or Vasa Previa) is a rare obstetric condition which affects about 1 in 2,500 pregnancies (or 1 in every 300 IVF pregnancies). It occurs when fetal blood vessel(s) from the placenta or umbilical cord cross the entrance to the birth canal, beneath the baby. Vasa praevia can result in rapid fetal haemorrhage which can occur from the vessels tearing when the cervix dilates or membranes rupture. If the condition is not diagnosed prenatally, the fetal mortality rate is estimated to be 95%. In cases diagnosed prenatally and correctly managed the infant survival rate is 100%. Diagnosis of Vasa Praevia is made by ultrasound using colour Doppler. Vasa Praevia can be detected during pregnancy with use of transvaginal sonography in combination with colour Doppler.  Infant death from Vasa Praevia is fully preventable if diagnosed prenatally. Vasa Praevia is not currently routinely screened for as part of the anomaly scan on the NHS. In fact the latest guidelines released by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in September 2018 state the following “…based on an 80% detection rate, the 2014 UK NSC external review found that the targeted screening of all twins and singleton pregnancies with at least one high-risk factor could reduce the perinatal loss rate by as many as 150 cases per year.” It then goes on to say "Although targeted mid-pregnancy ultrasound screening of pregnancies at higher risk of Vasa Praevia may reduce perinatal loss, the balance of benefit versus harm remains undetermined and further research in this area is required." I’m not quite sure what ‘harm’ the RCOG refer to, but what is clear is that if this condition was routinely screened for hundreds of healthy babies’ lives could be saved each year. A recent poll of over 1,000 people by ‘Vasa Praevia raising awareness’ showed that 99% off the people that participated would want to know if Vasa Praevia was suspected at the mid-pregnancy anomaly scan. There are two different types of Vasa Praevia as illustrated in the below diagrams. I had Type 1 Vasa Praevia. 

The only risk factor I had for Vasa Praevia was my low lying placenta. I now know that the bit ‘dangling down’ at the side that the sonographer mentioned at my 32 week scan was in fact exposed fetal vessels.

Over the following days not only did we learn more about Vasa Praevia, we also learnt more about Neonatal Intensive Care or NICU. Tate was connected to an array of different machines and was monitored daily by 2 nurses at all times. He was by far the sickest baby in the unit and a Registrar would always loiter around his cot after the head Consultant had done his morning rounds. They didn’t know how long Tate had been without blood or oxygen and at this point, we just had to see what happened after the cooling process when they warmed him back up. They told us that he had a strong Heart and strong Lungs and we held onto those little nuggets of information like beacons of hope.   



Tate lived for 5 precious days in NICU. I always like to tell people that he lived for those 5 days, not that ‘he died after 5 days’ they were the hardest days of our lives but part of me looks back on them with so much joy, it sounds odd I know, but that was my first experience of motherhood and I want to be able to remember Tate for the light that he bought into our lives. He battled through those days, and so did we. Always trying to find a positive out of a sea of negatives. Sometimes it was hard to see past the breathing tubes, the electrodes coming out of his head monitoring his brain activity, the multiple wires coming out of his arms, the cannulas’ and the picc-lines. By the end he was on full life support, but occasionally he would take a breath for himself and it was for those moments that we were hanging on for and fighting for. On day 4 Tate got to travel to the other side of the hospital in what I liked to call a little space ship for an MRI scan. I was so pleased he got to do that little trip, surrounded by a crash team and ‘Mr Snuggles’ his comforter, he got to see the ‘outside’. 

Tate's "Spaceship"
The MRI revealed the news that we hoped we would never hear. Tate had no brain activity. The fetal haemorrhage had left his brain without oxygen for too long and there was nothing else that could be done for him. Suddenly, I felt like we were being cruel by keeping him alive, he had already gone and we were selfishly trying to hold on to his broken little body. The team of nurses in NICU were wonderful. They gave us the privacy we needed and the time that we wanted to spend with our little boy. They asked us if we wanted a Priest to christen him – we declined, we were never religious and no amount of praying was ever going to bring our son back to us. We are even less believers now, how could any ‘God’ let this happen?
We bought in our families to meet Tate and say goodbye to him. It was pretty obvious to the rest of the unit that we had just received the worst possible news, the nurses put up a privacy shield around Tate’s cot and bent the rules by letting us have as many visitors as we needed. Once Tate had met his family, they then helped us wash him, they let me change his nappy and helped us pick out the clothes we wanted him to wear. We chose what should have been his ‘going home’ outfit. We were given a ‘4Louis’ memory box, which enabled us to take his handprints and footprints (which we would both later get tattooed on our bodies). We cut a special lock of his beautiful blonde hair and made casts of both his hands and feet. 
We didn’t want to say goodbye to Tate in a room full of people we didn’t know and around lots of other distraught parents, so we arranged to Tate to be bought into a little side room, a room where we could be together as a family for all of a few minutes. 
Tate passed away peacefully in his Daddy’s arms at 6.04pm on the 21stOctober 2015. A tragic and unnecessary death, which could have been easily prevented with a simple colour Doppler ultrasound. His death crushed us and we still suffer from the consequences of it daily, ask anyone who has lost a baby and they will tell you that the grief never goes away, you just learn how to live with it each day. Once you lose a child your life is forever changed. Tate became a big brother to Chester in April 2017 but no matter how many living children we may be fortunate enough to have, Tate will forever be the missing piece of our family.


You can find more information on Vasa Praevia here: 
International Vasa Previa Foundation (http://vasaprevia.com/)
Vasa Praevia – Raising awareness (http://vasapraevia.co.uk/
A new Petition has been set up to challenge the RCOG to change their recommendations to NOT screen high risk pregnancies for Vasa Praevia please help us to save little lives by signing it and sharing if you can: https://www.change.org/p/royal-college-of-obsetricians-and-gynaecologists-save-150-babies-per-year-by-routine-screening-for-vasa-praevia

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Thank you so much Sarah for sharing beautiful Tate. It's so important to talk about rare conditions, I'm honoured to be able to share your story. 

Katie xx


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Saturday, 13 October 2018

BLAW 2018 - Tilly.

Today my friend, Charlotte, is sharing her special little girl, Tilly. Thank you so much Charlotte for telling Tilly's story, I feel honoured to be able to share it. 
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Thank you to Katie for giving me the opportunity to tell Tilly’s story on your beautiful blog. 


On the 29thDecember 2017 I saw those 2 pink lines on not one, not two, but three pregnancy tests. I couldn’t really believe it. Deep down I don’t think I ever thought that it would happen for me. It was such early days yet my brain could not help but begin to plan; to get excited about this new little life growing inside of me.
Fast forward to the 19thweek of my pregnancy through lots of morning sickness and other pregnancy related ailments. Ian and I went on a short break to Granada before the baby arrived; our last holiday with just us two. On the way to the airport we stopped in Manchester and ordered a pram and a car seat, it was perfect. I pretty much wished this holiday away because I knew that when we arrived home it was time for our 20 week scan and of course, time to find out the gender of our little one. I was so excited. I was so naive.
On the morning of the 20 week scan I baked a cake to take round to my in-law’s; I planned on filling it with either pink or blue smarties once we had found out the gender. The cake was never completed and still to this day I struggle to go down the baking aisle of the supermarket, almost like it’s a reminder of my naivety.
I lay on the bed in the scanning room, my heart thumping. Within seconds of having the cold gel on my tummy she asked if I had felt my waters break or felt any fluid leaking. I hadn't. She explained to me that there was barely any fluid around the baby. I felt sick. Feelings of absolute dread and anguish washed over me. She then said that she couldn't make out all of the organs due to the lack of fluid so I was asked to go and sit back in the waiting room and allow my bladder to fill up. I sat there wishing and praying that everything was okay. We were called back in and she soon found the kidneys and bladder that she had been looking for. They were all fine. I started to relax a little and even managed to give Ian a little smile. She continued to move the scanner around my tummy, reading out numbers to her colleague. She then fell silent for an uncomfortable period as she pushed the scan probe harder into my tummy to get a better view. She hadn't told us the gender. She put her probe down and I knew it was bad news. "There's something there but I don't know what it is, I've never seen it before and I can't tell if it’s attached to the placenta or the baby".  We didn't know what was wrong, we just knew it wasn't good. We were then directed into a different room, one with comfy seats and a coffee machine and it dawned on me that we were in the "bad news room". I barely remember walking back to the car that day. We were numb, our world had begun to shatter. I got home to my half finished cake and sobbed.
After two very long days of replying to text messages from well-wishing friends who had been excitedly asking us about the sex of our baby, we travelled up to Newcastle where we met Professor Robson, a fetal medicine expert. We sat for hours in the ‘counselling room’ and when our turn for a scan eventually came I genuinely believed that everything would be fine. I had so much hope. At this point I never imagined for one second that my baby was going to die.
We were seated back in the 'counselling room' and shortly afterwards, the Prof came in and joined us. He sat down and looked at us over his glasses and said the words that will stick in my mind forever, the words that made our hearts shatter; "this baby has a major abnormality". I was in complete shock. I went numb and felt like a fly on the wall watching the horror unfold. He carried on talking but it was like I couldn't hear him properly, like there was a white noise or a fog that wouldn't allow what he was saying to reach my brain. He told us that our baby had a sacrococcygeal teratoma; a fast growing tumour attached to the sacrum. He said that my baby was 1 in 40,000. The bad news continued to flood in; we were told that she had a very poor prognosis and that continuing with the pregnancy would put me at too much risk. We were told that she would probably develop hydrops fetalis (fluid around the organs which results in heart failure) and die in utero. He said there was a possibility of me developing Mirror Syndrome which is basically a mimic response where my body develops heart failure too. He went onto say that if I did get to a point of delivery which could have been anytime after 32 weeks then I would have to have a classic c-section which involves a horizontal and vertical incision of the uterus therefore putting future pregnancies at risk too. He added that continuing to a point of having a c-section was a major risk which could result in me and the baby haemorrhaging severely due to the size of the tumour. And even once she was over all of these hurdles, she would have to endure hours and hours of extensive surgery to remove the tumour and still might not pull through. I felt like our world had just stopped.
We were then given 2 options: to terminate the pregnancy or to have an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis followed by a consultation with a paediatric surgeon. We chose the latter. 

We travelled home and began a week of what felt like mourning. We were grieving for a baby that was still alive. The more we talked about it the more it came apparent that Ian was not willing for my life to be put at risk and we felt we had no other option but to terminate. So we lived a week of thinking we were going to have to end the life of our precious, much wanted baby.

A week later on my 29th Birthday, now 22 weeks pregnant, we travelled back up to Newcastle truly believing we were in store for a day's counselling about having a termination.  We met a paediatric surgeon however who told us that if we managed to make it to 32 weeks and he was handed a "healthy" baby then actually she would have a good prognosis and would go on to lead a normal life. We were told he would operate on her 2 weeks after birth and that although the surgery would be extensive, she would probably fully recover. We finally had a glimmer of hope. This was the best news we could have hoped for on my birthday.
Of course the risks Professor Robson had already told us about were still there but hearing such positivity from the paediatric surgeon made all of those risks worth it. We then decided to continue with the pregnancy and I again let myself believe that I may actually have a baby to take home at the end of all of this.

I'm not sure how the Prof felt about our decision, whether he thought we were foolish maybe, but he supported us anyway. He reiterated to us that he didn't think she would survive the next few weeks and that basically the odds were stacked against us. He told me that with a normal pregnancy, baby's can be born at 24 weeks and have a decent chance of survival but my baby wasn't normal and this was therefore pushed back to 28 weeks. We had to get to 28 weeks to give this baby any chance of survival. I was then scheduled for weekly ultrasounds to check for hydrops, heart failure and to see how quickly the tumour was growing.
So every week we lived for the following Friday, in absolute limbo. Every week we sat in that waiting room with the other expectant mums waiting for our scan to see if our baby was still alive. And every week she was. With barely any amniotic fluid around her, her organs were still developing and she was still growing perfectly. She was fighting away in there despite everything she was up against. Our little warrior.

Friday the 18th May came and I was now exactly 24 weeks pregnant. I'd had my scan that morning at around 9:00 and again, everything was stable. I felt so proud of her, so proud to be the mummy of this strong little human. We text our families the good news and they replied with relieved messages. Every week that passed was another hurdle that we had all overcome. Within half an hour of arriving home from the scan I noticed that I was leaking pink fluid. I phoned the community midwives and was asked to attend the delivery suite. I began to think that it was all a bit of an overreaction, it was just a little bit of fluid, nothing major.

When we arrived, all I could think was why was I here? This was for where women gave birth to their babies. My baby couldn't come now. She was only 24 weeks. I'd had it drummed into my skull that my baby wasn't viable until at least 28 weeks and that there was zero percent chance of survival if she was born now. The dread and the anguish that had become so familiar began to wash over me again as I felt the reality of the situation hit. The Registrar came in and my worst fears were confirmed; at only 24 weeks, my waters had broken. I knew how bad this was. I cried tears like I've never cried before, tears of overwhelming sorrow. A couple of hours later, I was transferred up to Newcastle.

Throughout the night I was seen by numerous different midwives and doctors. It was reiterated to me that there was no chance of my baby surviving if I was to go into labour now and the likelihood was that this would happen within the next 48-72 hours.  In the middle of the night a neonatal Dr arrived to see me. His arrival was a bit of a surprise considering the last Dr's opinion was that my baby had no chance of survival. We talked about what the other Drs had said and then he said to me "but what if your baby does survive?" After being told by some very senior fetal medicine Drs that this wasn't a possibility, I looked at him confused. He said that the current plan wasn't even giving my baby a chance, so he asked me "what do you want us to do if your baby is born and she is alive?" I said "I want you to try and save her". 

72 hours passed and I hadn't gone into labour. She was hanging on in there. Everybody began to relax. They now said that the chances of going into labour were getting less and less. I was told stories about ladies that had managed to get to over 30 weeks, some even full term. The day after I was admitted I was told that I would be an inpatient for the forseeable, basically until my baby was born. It's a strange feeling; wishing to stay in hospital for as long as possible, but I knew that the longer I was there, the more chance my baby had of surviving. So I pretty much made myself at home. 

On the evening of the 25thMay, a discomfort in my abdomen that I had been aware of all day began to worsen and I could hardly bear to sit down. The pain was worsening by the second and my bump now began to feel like it was on fire. I had never felt pain like it.

The next thing I remember was a Dr telling me that they suspected sepsis, which I later found out stemmed from me developing chorioamnionitis (an infection of the womb). She also said that I was 1cm dilated. She told me that this was it now - my baby had to be born by classic c-section (an inverted T incision of the uterus). The next person to enter the room was the anaesthetist. She talked at me about epidurals and general anaesthetics but I couldn't take in what she was saying. I told her that I didn't want to be awake and she agreed that because of the infection, a general anaesthetic was the safest option.

At about 11pm I was transferred. I remember passing a new mum cradling her baby as I was wheeled onto the delivery suite. I knew that wasn't going to be me, I knew I wouldn’t come out of here cradling a crying baby.

I remember feeling awful for not ringing my Mum to tell her what was happening but I couldn't bear to wake her up at midnight. If she was asleep she was oblivious to all of this and that to be honest felt like the kindest thing to do. An influx of Drs and midwives ensued. More bloods were taken and another cannula was inserted into my hand. Intravenous antibiotics and fluids were pushed through my veins. The Dr that was to perform the c-section came in and went through the consent form with me. I recall her telling me that if it didn't go to plan and there was difficulty getting my baby and the tumour out, my womb could become damaged and a hysterectomy would be the only option. I was absolutely petrified. The neonatal consultant arrived and told me that his team were ready to go into theatre to try and save my baby. He told me that if she couldn't be saved then she would be for "comfort care" and that she would be placed in my arms. It was at this moment that I realised I may never get to see my little girl alive. Everyone else in that theatre would get to see her apart from me because I would be under a general anaesthetic. The next person to enter the room was a consultant anaesthetist, someone who I will be eternally grateful for seeing that night. I told him I wanted to be awake to meet my little girl and he said that although a general anaesthetic is what they usually do in cases of infection, in my case a spinal would be the right thing to do.

So off I went, into theatre. Ian told me later that day that there were 16 members of staff in theatre that night. 16 people with different specialities and different skills, all with one thing in mind; saving me and my precious little girl. With Ian holding my hand on one side and the anaesthetist reassuring me on the other, at 00:56 on the 26th May 2018, we welcomed our first born, Tilly, to the world.

She was whisked away to the neonatal team in the corner of the room immediately but after only a few minutes the Dr came over and told Ian and I that they weren't going to be able to save her. She was brought over to me wrapped in blankets and placed on my chest. She was moving her little head and I could feel her breath on my cheek. She was the most beautiful little life I had ever seen and I felt so proud to be her mum.  She lived for just 34 minutes before passing away peacefully. It may sound strange to say that I feel lucky but I do, I feel lucky for every single one of those minutes that Ian and I got to spend with her. 

When I read Tilly’s story back to myself, I can’t believe these are my words. I still struggle to comprehend that this has happened to me. Losing a baby irreversibly changes you and you feel as though your life has been split into 2; the before and after. You struggle to comprehend how you will ever get through each day, each week, each month but 20 weeks on I am still here and I am still going. I can’t say that it has got easier because for me, the heartache still feels just as raw. What I can say though is that I am learning to carry my grief in a way that doesn’t debilitate me. I can laugh without feeling guilty and I can allow myself to look forward to the future. I take great comfort in knowing that Tilly will never be forgotten and that her memory will live on through her dad and me.


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Thank you so much Charlotte for sharing yours and beautiful Tilly's story during Baby Loss Awareness week. 

Katie xx
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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

BLAW 2018 - Judah's Cloud.

Day 2 of BLAW 2018, comes from Jenny. Jenny shares the story of her little boy Judah and how she has created a beautiful legacy in Judah's name - Judah's Cloud. 

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In July 2017 we were expecting our second child. Our daughter was just two when we found out we were pregnant but she would turn 3 before her new baby brother arrived. The pregnancy went smoothly and quickly until 39 plus 4 when we discovered he’d turn himself into a breech position. Due to his gestation and size we opted for a c-section, however we couldn’t get an elective appointment until 5 days after my due date. At the time we questioned the date but with the promise we would be seen if I went into labour, we left happy and ready to prepare for his arrival. On the day of the c-section I woke abruptly at 3am. Something was wrong, I could sense his absence so strongly, something I never imagined mothers would be able to do. There’s no way to fully describe the disconnect you feel when your child dies in the womb, but he was gone and I knew it. I suddenly felt like a person in a film screaming on one side of the glass whilst the person on the other side is oblivious. After trying everything to wake him, we took ourselves to triage where FDIU (fetal death in utero) was confirmed shortly after 4am.


After receiving the news that our son had died, we went home and moved all the baby related items into one room and closed the door. We took the car seat out of the car, knowing he’d never be coming home with us. Our daughter was coming back to our house with family whilst I was induced and I couldn’t bear for her to face a cot or pram after what we were going to tell her. Whilst we had those brief moments alone between leaving the hospital and coming back for induction, we desperately searched the internet for advice on talking to young children about stillbirth. Everything we read told us to be very clear using words like “died”, “dead” and “gone”, and not to use phrases like “sleeping”, “born asleep” or “too poorly”. There are many blogs that talk about the heartache and the pain of the following weeks, months and years, but parenting an older sibling was something that very few people talked about at the time. We took the small nuggets of advice and came up with words we were emotionally, practically and spiritually in agreement with.

I sat down my tiny three year old, held her in my arms and in the the numbness of the pain found the words “your brother has died, he’s in heaven now and he won’t be come home with us”. In hindsight that was the easy bit. As she grows and discovers more of what she lost, I find myself carrying my own grief and somehow hers too. At the time she didn’t understand what a brother was, but as she grows new waves of grief hit as she realises all that she has lost.

On Saturday 5th August at 7.55am, Judah Christopher Walsh was born weighing the exact same weight as his sister of 8lb 11oz. The staff bathed and dressed him and we returned home to Aveah the same day. Already I was pulled between two worlds; parenting a baby who had died (and believe me you still parent a baby after death) and parenting a child that so practically and emotionally needed me. I would be lying to say being mum to a living child wasn’t influenced by being Mum to a dead child, and not just in the ways you would assume. I hold her closer, I thank God for every minute with her, I fear for her safety beyond any normal level but I also face new pain every day as she reminds me of the hole in our family. 

Thankfully our incredible midwifes encouraged us to return and we spent many visits over the next 10 days holding him and making the only memories we’d ever get. The care and support we received from our hospital was beyond what words can even begin to describe. I can never thank the staff enough for crying with us, laughing with us and being there every step along the way. There’s never a good way to lose a baby, but the support we received was the best possible and I’m not sure I’d be here able to speak about my experience if it wasn’t for that. The hospital bathed and dressed Judah, and provided everything we needed. There were aspects that we quickly came to realise we were incredibly blessed to have access to. Simple things we took for granted like clothing that fitted because Judah was a term baby and the perfect white 3D foot cast the hospital had prepared for us. 

Judah’s foot cast we received from the hospital and inspiration for starting Little Cloud Casting. 

Seeing what they’d done for us and knowing that everyone wouldn’t get the same opportunities, and in the heartbreak and need to make our pain worth something, we simultaneously established a business and a charity. The business was to create beautiful 3D casts for families, whether their baby lived or not - something I hadn’t found accessible in my area. We wanted to create a professional and beautiful service that was proud to work with babies who had died and allow parents to keep a vital memory. The charity started to create and provide clothing for babies; allowing parents of any size baby to dress them in a real sleepsuit and hat. The latter is still in process and we’ve recently launched clothing boxes into three hospitals in our area. Each box contains two of everything; so parents can keep something their baby has worn. We desperately sought out a sleepsuit Judah was cremated in, and we wanted to help remove that search for parents in the future. Going forward we want to meet the needs of bereaved families and clothing is just one aspect of that. 

Packing the boxes provided by Judah’s Cloud to maternity units. Each containing two identical outfits and a little quote card to keep.

If you’d told me 18 months ago I’d be in this position, doing this and going through what I’ve been through, I wouldn’t have believed you! But each day I’ve woken up, kept going and slowly days turned into weeks, that turned into months and now over a year later aspects of me feel like they’ll always be broken, and aspects have already “healed” (excuse the cliche term). I wasn’t brave like people tell me, I wasn’t courageous, I just stayed alive and woke up each morning. If you are reading this and the overwhelming sense of grief is there right now, know that it won’t always be. I’m not sure at what point I felt like I’m no longer holding my breath, but I did. At some point I started to enjoy life again, even though there’s still moments or days where the wave of grief is overwhelming. Each day I find new ways to remember my son without living in despair and knowing that moving forward isn’t moving on. 

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Thanks so much Jenny for sharing Judah and your wonderful charity with us. You can find out more about Judah's Cloud here.

Katie xxx 


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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018.

Today marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness week 2018. A week for us to celebrate our babies, tell our stories and to raise money. Admittedly I've avoided this week in the past, somehow thinking if I didn't acknowledge it, it couldn't happen to me, that was far from the truth. This year I will be shouting from the roof tops and trying to raise awareness. 

The last few weeks or so, have seen baby loss discussions on the BBC, This Morning, in magazines and M&S have sold t-hirts and candles in the lead up to BLAW. It feels as though more and more people are opening up and telling their story; Gary Barlow, Lily Allen and Amanda Holden, to name a few. Baby loss doesn't discriminate, it can happen to any one and the more we talk, the more we can learn and hopefully save more baby's lives. 

So this week I will be sharing posts from other parents, charities that have helped us and other bits in between. Please follow me over on social media to see more - Instagram , Twitter and Facebook. I hope you can all join in the Wave of Light on 15th October, lighting a candle in memory of all those babies that have been lost. 

A few more things that are happening during or around BLAW 2018;

  • Baby Loss Hour on Twitter, hosted by the lovely Jess from Legacy of Leo. The chat will be happening every night this week, with different topics and discussions. Join in at 8pm 9-15th October.
  • Nicole from Our Missing Peace, is holding an Afternoon Tea on 21st October (there is currently a competition here to win tickets), to reflect on BLAW and meet other baby loss families. I can't wait for this (and cake, of course!)

  • Lots of buildings will be turning blue and pink for BLAW - find a local building on this map.
Image from here
  • Lots of remembrance events happening in and around the country. Find the list here to your local event and information on how to get involved. 
Image from here

I'm so proud to be a part of Baby Loss Awareness week this year, but for loss families, this isn't just a week. It's every minute, of every hour, of every day. This is our lives and I hope you can join us in celebrating our very special babies.

Katie xx


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Sunday, 7 October 2018

#StillOurBaby Sammy.

This #StillOurBaby story comes from Suzanne, and her very special little boy, Sammy. I've been speaking with Suzanne for some time now and feel honoured to be able to share Sammy's story today, on his 1st birthday. Suzanne discusses her experience with suffering from placental abruption. There are some links at the end of this post, if you would like any more information on this condition.  

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For a long time I have been told that I have a way with words and know just what to write when it matters, however, when it comes to this, my own heart-breaking story, I have never found it so difficult to put into words the events that occurred on 6thOctober 2017.

I have sat here for hours pondering on how to bring my story across to the world because unfortunately it isn’t a pretty one, but what I have come to realise is, no matter how I tell it or what I decide to put in or not put in… it ends the same way, so here goes.

It is 6.30am and I am up with my first born Oliver getting him breakfast and ready for school. I was so worried about him for a while because everything was changing, he started school that September and then the new baby coming, but yet again he made me realise what an absolute angel I truly had because not only was he enjoying school and having no trouble with getting up and ready, he was super excited about being a big brother and I will forever remember him saying “Is the baby getting bigger?” excitedly as he hugged my huge round belly time and time again!

I, however, am very tired, I had worked very hard the day before and didn’t sleep very well but like any Mum I have 10,000 things to do so I get cracking.

After I dropped Oliver off at school I went shopping for the nights tea and headed home to get start with clearing out Oliver’s toys, after all I only have 4 weeks left before arrival so we needed the space! But after an hour or so I begin to feel achy and sore and very, very pregnant and decide that maybe this clearing out can wait so I sit down and relax for a little while. That little while turned out to be a long while, I did not remember feeling this achy with Oliver at all but I was so uncomfortable all day. 

3.30pm came and I went to pick Oliver up from school and took him home and the night proceeded on as a normal night. I made Fajitas for tea which we all enjoyed because after all it was Fajita Friday, and we watched a little telly, Oliver showed me what he had learned at school that day before putting him to bed. I had come back down stairs after and had a chocolate biscuit knowing that in about 5 minutes the baby was going to have a major hiccup session which it duly did and that made me and Chris smile and we discussed how exciting it was that we were going to have another baby around very soon and joked that we hoped it didn’t come a week after my baby shower like Oliver did because that was on 8thOctober and I wasn’t quite ready. But I was soon wriggling around again uncomfortable and told Chris that I was going to bed at 9.30pm to see if I could sleep it off. But for the next hour I was up and down to the toilet really feeling like I needed to go but nothing happening until 10.30pm I lay back down in bed and thought ‘right Suze, come on, just get to sleep and sleep this thing off’ and as I lay and closed my eyes I felt a huge gush in between my legs, and my thoughts… ‘no wonder I have been so uncomfortable, I have been in labour all day!’ 

Oliver 6thOctober – Showing Mummy and Daddy what he learned that day.

And this is where my heartbreaking story truly starts…

I screamed for Chris, who was literally in the room in seconds, and as I am attempting to get out of bed I am telling him my waters have broken and this is it but when I stand up and look at him, all I see is his pained, grey looking face before the words “that’s not water” comes out of his mouth. I look down to the bed and all I see is a large pool of blood lying on top of my mattress and then I look down to see blood pouring down my pyjama bottoms. ‘oh god, no, no, no, no! What is this? What is happening?’ I am saying internally but what comes out of my mouth is “Chris, ring an ambulance”. Everything started to slow down, I take myself into the bathroom and I sit on the toilet thinking ‘what is happening? This isn’t good?’. Chris is scrambling in pure panic trying to ring an ambulance and all I can hear him say is “She is bleeding, there is a lot of blood… its everywhere”. Chris has never been one for the phone so my logical self kicks in and start reeling off what he needs to say, which to this day I can’t quite remember. All I really remember is the constant gush of blood pouring out of me and thinking‘help me, please God help me’. At some point I am told to go on to the floor which I did and then I realised, OLIVER! Chris had to ring someone to come for Oliver. I tell him to give me the phone so he can ring Oliver’s Nana which he does and whilst I’m on the phone to the 999 lady she just kept repeating the same questions “Are you having any contractions?” “Let me know when you start one so I can time it” however, there was no pain, there was a nothingness, just the gushing sensation and no matter how many times I told this lady that there was no pain and there were no contractions, she just kept asking.

The ambulance arrived then and there were two young paramedics and they started asking all sorts of questions which I was duly answering but inside… ‘help me, please’. One of the men stepped over me into the tiny bathroom and I saw his face, his pained face of not knowing where to start but just repeating to his colleague “significant blood loss” and when he stepped back over I realised that another paramedic had arrived who was the rapid response and the paramedic that was in the bathroom with me then said “this isn’t right, we shouldn’t be here, this isn’t a normal Friday night call”. 

‘Oh God this is bad… help me, please someone help me’

I lay half naked on the floor with blood pouring out of me answering questions and being wired up as the rapid response paramedic appeared to take over and then finally, after what felt like hours, picked me up and put me in a chair and it was at that moment, when I saw that amount of blood on the floor that it dawned on me that either one, or both of us are not surviving this. The scene could only be described as a blood bath, with what looked like an inch deep blood pool that covered my entire bathroom with I cannot even remember the amount of huge clots lying in it. ‘Oh god! This is bad! Help me… please’

Chris wasn’t allowed in the ambulance with me but the entire ride there I just repeated the same thing to the paramedic over and over “this isn’t normal is it?” and his response was the same every time “let’s just get you to the hospital”. And in between this he would just keep giving me a run-down of where we were and estimated arrival time. “We are just on Plodder Lane Suzanne, about 4 minutes out”

On arrival to the hospital I was wheeled down the hall and noticed a person at the end of the corridor who was suited and booted ready for action, gown, cap and mask and he moved his hand indicating that we were to go left which we did. We entered the very end room where there were people everywhere, they were all in action, getting equipment, asking questions, trying to get a line in a vein. Questions, so may questions ‘What is going on? Someone please just stop and tell me what is going on? Why is my stomach so hard? Where is Chris? I need Chris! Help me, please…’

I felt someone hold my arm and I turned to find a midwife tell me that her name was Vicky and that they were going to look after me. I watched Vicky get every tool she could to her hand to get a heartbeat from my baby. At one point she shouted some numbers but someone said “that’s Mum’s”… my pulse? I then heard someone say “you can let the husband in, she appears to be fine” – I remember that persons voice saying those words with a hint of shock… ‘should I not be ok? Someone please tell me what is going on’And as I turned to look at Chris walking through the door, the only time I took my eyes off Vicky, I noticed out of the corner of my eye her shake her head to someone… ‘No!’

Chris is stood in the corridor of the room, he just stood there staring, grey. He couldn’t get anywhere near me with the amount of people around me. I heard someone shouting “get me the portable ultrasound…NOW!” and within seconds someone was there with a machine. The consultant had the machine straight on me immediately and there he was, my baby boy on the screen and I could see for myself, there was nothing there, just a still screen with the outline of my beautiful baby and then the words came “…we are so sorry but there is no heartbeat” 

‘No heartbeat? No! No, no, no, no!’

It was only at that moment that I realised how utterly calm I had been since the bleeding started because it was then that I blew “Well get him out!” I screamed “NOW! GET HIM OUT NOW. Why are you all just stood there, cut me open and get him out… PLEASE” I don’t know how long this went on for but no one moved, everyone just stopped and either looked away or showed empathy in their eyes and then I felt someone touch my arm, I turned to find Vicky holding my arm, her eyes were pooled with tears and her words, Vicky’s words is what made it sink in as she looked me dead in the eye… “Sweetheart, he’s gone”. 

‘He’s gone? My boy, gone?’  I turned, sobbing, to Chris and I will never forget his face for as long as I live… devastation. ‘Our boy, our creation – gone? I am so confused, how, why, what? I don’t understand. He had hiccups. I just needed the toilet and now my baby boy is gone? I don’t understand’

Chris sped over to me then and he hugged me and we cried… we cried for what felt like a long time just holding each other.

After a while Chris took a moment and told me that he needed to ring Sheila, Oliver’s Nana, which, of course he did, she would be worried. He stood at the door of the room and his voice was shaky to start but when he said the words “he’s gone” his voice broke and he cried with a whole new devastation like saying it out loud made it so real, and it did make it real, and I sobbed and I am screaming inside ‘I don’t understand? Is this real? Please someone help me’

After a while, everyone had left and Vicky told me that Kathryn was going to take over from there but that she would pop in and see me. I remember apologising… a lot! Vicky told me off… a lot! She kept telling me that it wasn’t my fault, but it must have been, I had to have done something to make this happen, what? How? Why?

Kathryn took over then and she sat with us and explained that I had suffered a full Placental Abrubtion, she told us that this is your baby’s life support machine and once that falls away, there is no oxygen going to the baby anymore and he just fell asleep forever. ‘I don’t understand? What have I done? How could this happen? I don’t understand!’ 

After that devastating discussion and giving us a few minutes to get our heads around it, if ever possible, she then told us that she was going to break my waters to induce labour. ‘Induce labour? For me to go through what, hours of pain and torture to hold my dead son? NO! I don’t understand. Is this really happening? Please, please, please someone help me’

Kathryn broke my waters shortly after and within minutes I could feel the contractions starting and my boys journey in to this world began.

We talked, all of us, Chris, Kathryn and me. About what happened, about what’s going to happen, about the really weird coincidence that it was the anniversary of my beautiful cousin’s Sarah’s death. Then Kathryn asked me if I wanted to hold him when he was born? ‘Oh God, please help me!!’ I am screaming inside whilst crying. I didn’t know what to do? I had never seen a dead person before, do I really want my first time to be my son? I kept asking Chris but he didn’t know either, of course he didn’t. ‘How are we supposed to know what to do? How are we supposed to deal with this? I don’t understand?

Kathryn was our working angel, saying the right thing at the right time. She knew when to leave Chris and me and she knew when to be there. All silly things kept going through my mind, I had work in a few hours? My milk was going to come through? I just had my whole house done for the baby arriving and now we can’t even bring him home? How was I going to tell anyone this horrendous news? What were we going to do? ‘I DON’T UNDERSTAND’

1 hour and 46 minutes after Kathryn broke my waters, at 02:16am on 7thOctober 2017, I pushed my final push and my beautiful and amazing son Samuel ‘Sammy’ Wilkinson arrived in to the world with the most deafening sound of silence. 

Kathryn just knew what to do and as soon as I felt him arrive he was already in my arms. And he was perfect. He was warm and had rosy cheeks and ginger hair and he was perfect. Just perfect.

He just looked asleep, I held him, and I kissed him and I cradled him, the whole time crying tears I had never felt before. He just looked asleep? I kept asking if they had made a mistake, but Chris just looked at me and I knew, of course I knew but it didn’t stop me whispering in his little ear ‘wake up buddy, please…wake up’but he never woke up. He lay perfectly still in my arms just looking absolutely perfect. 

I held him for a long, long time before thinking that I needed to let someone know at work what had happened or I would have had clients waiting at a door that would never be open and so I passed my boy to Chris for the first time and I text Laura, through blurry eyes, the worst news I would ever have to break to anyone and when I sent it I looked at Chris and told him that I couldn’t do it again and his simple reply “and you won’t have to”.

Reality has to come at some point and there were things that needed discussing. Kathryn had to ask us some very difficult questions. One of which was whether I wanted a post mortem? I must have looked at Kathryn like she had 10 heads before “No, no I don’t, you’re not touching my boy, he is perfect and you’re not touching my boy” and of course she understood and nodded. She also asked if I wanted my placenta to be tested and I said no, what does that even mean? She did explain but I was too far gone. After this she asked me if I wanted to bathe Sammy and dress him, but I just couldn’t, I was too afraid of hurting him. Ridiculous I know. So, Kathryn took him and did all the normal checks, weighed him, measured him, washed him, put a nappy and a little outfit on him and then handed him back to me before reassuring me that I had made the right decision about not doing a post mortem because at 6LB 3OZ he ‘was just perfect’.

Kathryn then brought us the 4Louis memory box and she went through it, it was beautiful but it dawned on me then that I was being given a memory box for my son, because that was all I was going to have, a few hours of memories. I didn’t even know these things existed and if they didn’t, would I have had any memories of him? It had a blanket, two teddies, a lock of hair box, a little glass Angel, hand and footprint kit, an impression kit, an SD card to store those precious pictures and much, much more.

Kathryn told us that we were moving to another room and did I want a shower before I left and when I looked at myself I realised that I was still covered in blood, literally head to toe, It was that moment that I realised how real everything was. When you hear of these awful devastating stories you don’t actually hear of the realness, the raw beating you go through before during and after a miscarriage or stillbirth, not only emotionally but physically. I had lost that much blood that I had to sit in the shower and as the hot water hit my body the shower turned red and it washed away the last few hours of physical hell from my body. I sat there thinking that my beautiful baby boy was currently in the next room with his Daddy but he was never coming home with us, our whole lives had shifted and I cried.

We were then taken a beautiful room, a butterfly room, where Chris and me could spend some time with our baby boy and enjoy him for what little time we had. We were provided a Cold Cot which keeps them cold so that they don’t deteriorate as quickly and we took it in turns in holding him and putting him back in the cold cot.

Sheila came at 6am and she held him, and I cried and she cried and Chris cried. My body cried and ached and was confused and I still didn’t understand.

We talked, about everything, about what happened, about what was going to happen. Sheila told me that she had already told Oliver that Sammy was gone, which I have to say I am grateful for because although it was a conversation that I didn’t even think of it wasn’t something that I would have wanted to do either. Chris took the opportunity whilst she was there to start ringing people and telling them what happened, which after hearing him tell Sheila, I was dreading it for him. But I told him that I loved him and he did it. Each time his voice breaking at the words that our beautiful Sammy was gone. 

There were messages coming through then but I didn’t have the energy to read or respond. I just needed to be with Sammy. 

A photographer came round and took some photos of him, him on his own, him with us and his hands and feet on ours. And I took 3 photos myself. 2 of which are personal and are for Chris and me and 1 for Oliver. I took one of the little teddies out of the 4Louis box and I took a picture of Sammy’s hand over it so that I could take that little teddy and give it to Oliver and tell him that even though he couldn’t come home, Sammy hugged and kissed that teddy just for his big brother… a moment that I now treasure.


7thOctober 17 – Mummy, Daddy & Sammy
7thOctober 17 – Sammy and teddy for big brother Oliver

After a few hours I could already see that Sammy was deteriorating before my very eyes and I decided then that It was something that I couldn’t watch for much longer so I had the conversation with Chris and told him that I had to leave soon. I said that I wanted to leave after 12 hours with him, I wanted 12 wonderful hours with my boy and then I had to leave. 

A few friends came, Kim came, Sarah and Stephen came, just for a little while to say hello and goodbye and show their support.

Vicky and Kathryn came in for the last 20 minutes of their shift to just be with us and talk and we did talk, and we cried and they commented on how absolutely perfect Sammy was. I just repeatedly apologised to them for having to deal with such a horrendous thing and they told me off a lot for doing it.

I asked the day Midwife Lucy to come in then and I explained that I wanted to leave at 14.16 that afternoon. She told me that there was no rush and that I could spend as much time as I wanted to with him but I explained that the longer I left it the harder it was going to be and she nodded, instantly understanding.

Lucy carried out all the necessary details for us to leave whilst I spent my last few hours with my beautiful, perfect son, just holding him, kissing him, stroking his perfectly soft skin, smelling him and mostly apologising to him over and over again that I had failed him. I begged whatever God there was in this world to let it be some horrendous nightmare and for me to wake up and it not be real… but I never woke up. 

The time came then, Lucy and another women came to our room just after 2pm with everything that we needed and we talked for a little while before she asked me where I would like to leave Sammy when I left, I didn’t understand what she meant and my face must have portrayed it because she then said would I like to leave him in his cot or in her arms? I was utterly destroyed by that question. I told her then that he is to be left in her arms and she wasn’t to let him go, ever, which is ridiculous but the thought of leaving him in a cot all by himself just left me colder than I have ever felt before. 

At 14.15 I placed my beautiful and perfect son in to the arms of a then sobbing Lucy, Chris kissed his head and muttered something that I couldn’t make out from the sobs and then it was my turn. I looked Lucy in her teary eyes and asked her with every ounce of energy I had to please take care of my son and she nodded with tears coming down her cheeks, I then looked at my son though blurry eyes, kissed him on the head, smelled him one last time, told him that I loved him with every inch of my soul and that I was so, so sorry but that I would see him again at some point and I turned and left… 

Each step forward felt like my feet were encased in concrete and I sobbed, sobbed like I had never sobbed before and at that moment I wanted to die. I wanted the world to end because I couldn’t see forward. My heart was black, a hollowness ensued and I just wanted to die. 

We were escorted off site and we walked past new Dad’s ringing people telling their friends and family of their happy news and we left sobbing with an empty car seat in our hands. 

The journey home was hell, we cried every inch of the way looking out at the world thinking ‘why haven’t you stopped?’. At some point I stopped crying, just for a moment, at a set of traffic lights, looked at Chris and said “This cannot affect Oliver” and Chris looked at me, red eyes, red nose and tears streaming and just nodded, understanding. 

We arrived home and I looked at our home and realised how much I didn’t want to walk through the door, knowing that this is where it started. I was so grateful at that time that Sheila had cleaned up the blood and I didn’t have to walk in to that at least. We walked through the door, into the living room and we sat on the couch and sobbed, we sobbed until I fell slept. I don’t know how long for but I remember waking, just for a few minutes, to hear Chris breaking down on the phone to someone and then I drifted back off again and the next I knew Chris was waking me telling me that I needed to eat to stay strong, it was dark outside then, but I didn’t see the point of eating, of anything, until Oliver popped in to my head and there it was, the pinnacle moment for me… Oliver. My beautiful Oliver, I had to stay strong for him, it wasn’t his fault, he had no idea what went on really and he needs his Mummy and Daddy. So I ate and went to bed and I slept, a dark and dreamless sleep and I swear I hadn’t even moved the whole night and I didn’t know what to make of that. I expected to be awake with nightmares of reliving the horror but there was nothing, just darkness. I woke up the next morning and for one second I forgot, I was still pregnant and everything was ok but then it hit me, the horror. Lying in the same position, in the same bed where is started 2 nights ago made me feel physically sick. “Why me?” I sobbed. “What happened? Where was he? Is he ok? Is he being looked after? Please God bring him back… Please.”

After a while I got up and I got showered and got dressed knowing that Oliver would be home that day and I needed, for his sake, to at least look like his Mummy no matter what hollow shell it was and I promised myself that I needed to continue to do this because it would only take one day of not doing this and I would fall in to a very, very dark place.

Oliver came home later that day and I tried so hard not to cry in front of him but I couldn’t help it, my body was just crying, I was broken and there was no hiding it. He knew, my 4 year old knew something had changed and he came in and gently hugged me before saying “Mummy, if there is no baby in your belly, why do you still have a belly?” and I giggled, not because I was happy but because that one comment made me realise that this little 4 year old was what was going to get Chris and me through this.

The next two weeks went by in a bit of a blur, I don’t really remember it that much. I remember bits, like registering Sammy as a stillbirth and being so upset because a couple came out just before we went in all happy because they had just registered their baby and it wasn’t fair. But mainly organising a funeral for my little boy. Getting asked questions daily about what we were doing and what we wanted, flowers, donations, coffin colours, music, where, when, numbers, will Oliver be coming or not, venue after or not, what to dress him in… to many things to think about. My mind whirled around and around and I asked Chris for help but he didn’t know either. On a daily basis I begged for help but no one could help with this, this was our job, our baby boy deserved the best send off from his parents and once I realised this it all came together. 

Donations, not flowers, to 4Louis because that’s what made a difference to us, a white coffin because it signifies innocence and my God he was pure and innocent, at the Crematorium where the rest of our family were remembered, numbers – to anyone that felt the strength to come to such a tiny human’s funeral were welcome, a venue after to talk to those who came and tell them about our boy. We found the perfect outfit for him that was so similar to the one we originally dressed him in but I needed to keep that one and lastly, no Oliver would not attend because I didn’t want him to feel or remember that pain… ever.

In between I found the energy, on the back of a high hose of diazepam, to go back to the hospital to hand deliver individual letters to the midwives with an invite to the funeral. When I arrived I was told that Lucy was on shift and to please wait because she wanted to see us. After a few minutes the lady I left my son with came round the corner and she looked shocked before hugging me and burst out crying whilst asking how I had the strength to walk through those doors again and I admitted it was the drugs that was helping. We talked for a few minutes before I asked how he was and then I broke. She told me that he was ok and that she never let him go the entire day, she just carried him around all day with her and looked after him for me and I realised that’s exactly what I needed to hear, it was only at that moment that I realised how utterly petrified I was about him being left on his own and I hated it, I hated not being able to cuddle him and look after him, I hated that I couldn’t be his Mummy. And I left the hospital again, empty handed and hollow.

His day came, 21stOctober 2017, and the car arrived and nothing prepared Chris or me for the sight that was our tiny human’s coffin sat on the back seat of a limo and the tears came and they didn’t stop. 

We arrived at the crematorium to an amazing crowd waiting for us to show their support and say goodbye to Sammy. Amazingly, the first 3 faces I saw were the faces of the beautiful midwives that went through this with us and I was so pleased that they could make it because they deserved to say goodbye too. We entered to Faith Hill – There You’ll Be and we listened to Father Paul talk about Sammy and his entrance to heaven and to my utter amazement, my wonderful Husband somehow found the strength to stand up and read a little poem that he wrote the day we came home as I slept on the couch, I had never been more proud of him than that moment. When the service was over, Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole played and I stood and with every ounce of energy I had I walked over to my son’s coffin, placed the blue teddy his big brother got him on top and I kissed it before apologising one last time and telling him I loved him and I left. I greeted everyone that came and I got in the limo and as we drove away that last thing I saw were the 3 faces again of the wonderful midwives… a perfect goodbye.

 We woke up on the Sunday and began our healing as a family. It has now been a year since losing our beautiful Sammy and it has been a very tough one and I still do not understand what happened but I stuck to my deal with myself and every day I got up, got showered and got dressed for my other son Oliver, I needed to do it for him.

I still to this day cannot speak out loud of the moment I left my newborn son in the arms of stranger and left because it’s my breaking point, I don’t know how I left. It is the most painful thing I have ever done and will ever do and I will be honest and admit that those few paragraphs took a long, long time to write because I broke every time I tried and I couldn’t  breath because his face, his smell and that feeling I felt when I left him rushes back whenever I open my head and heart to remembering it… it is a pain that cannot be put into words and only a nod between grieving Mothers truly knows that pain and the one thing that I can guarantee is that none of those Mothers would ever put that pain on anyone.

I received a letter a few months later asking me to come in and speak to a consultant about the results of my tests, which I was confused about because I didn’t know what tests I had but when I arrived they informed me that they tested not only my blood but my placenta too which they overruled my decision on medical grounds because of how severe it was.

I was grateful that they had ignored my decision in the end because it was only with time that I realised that I wanted it testing to ensure that whatever caused it, if anything, would never happen again. Unfortunately, none of the tests they performed came back with anything, nor did I have any of the symptoms or the risk factors* so I am still none the wiser and put it down to my beautiful boy just wasn’t ready for this world, even if we were so ready for him and still, every single day, I pray to whatever God there is to ‘Please bring him back’.

7thOctober 17 – Samuel ‘Sammy’ Wilkinson – 6lb 3oz of perfection.



           *Symptoms of Placental Abruption

·      Pain in the back and abdomen
·      Contractions
·      Tender womb
·      Vaginal bleeding

*Risk Factors for Placental Abrubtion

·      Has a previous Placental Abruption
·      A smoker
·      Is a cocaine or amphetamine user
·      Has chronic high blood pressure
·      Has pre-eclampsia
·      Has had a blow to the stomach or an indirect trauma that may have affected the the placenta
·      Has an intrauterine infection
*TAKEN FROM THE TOMMY’S WEBSITE https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/information-about-placental-abruption

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Thank you so much Suzanne, for sharing Sammy's story. He will be in my thoughts today on his special day.

Katie xx

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