On Saturday the 27th May 2017 I saw two pink lines. After seeing months of negative tests, and having had a miscarriage 9 months earlier I had never been happier. The one morning I do the test without Phil in the house it comes back positive.
To say I was over the moon doesn’t cover it. I rang Phil straight away to ask him if he wanted the good news or the bad news. Of course he said the bad. “We are going to need a bigger flat”. All I heard next was rambling “Are you pregnant?” “That’s amazing“. I knew our lives would be forever changed.
Before our 12 week scan, I had it in my head that when they did the ultrasound there wouldn’t be a baby in there. I thought all the pizza I had been eating was finally starting to show. I was wrong. There he was, all small and perfectly formed. I was so overwhelmed with seeing him I just couldn’t help but cry. We had never got this far before.
As she was scanning him we saw his little hand waving. I looked at Phil and he was crying. All I could do was stare at his tiny little fingers and nose. He was perfection.
Now, our baby was far from well-behaved in any appointment or scan. I would always have to walk around to get him to change position, or wiggle my hips until he turned the right way up. The first time we heard his heartbeat he kicked the midwife’s doppler off my stomach. From then on, every healthcare professional knew him as a cheeky baby. I loved that every time we had an appointment he would kick them or move around loads so they couldn’t do their checks. We imagined what he would be like as a baby or child. We bet he would be the cheeky kid in the class that was always in trouble but the teachers loved him because of him charm.
My pregnancy was actually pretty smooth. We had a couples of visits to the hospital because I had pain or swollen ankles but everything came back perfect. We never had anything to cause us concern and I never once worried about anything after we got to 12 weeks.
Just before Christmas, we had a midwife check up and she couldn’t tell if he was breech or not, so she booked us in for a scan on the 28th. On Friday 22nd December we had our antenatal class and everyone there was having boys the same as us. We learnt about breastfeeding, c-sections, pain relief and different stages of labour (at what point our partners shouldn’t make jokes). The coach never brought up potential risks, or what might go wrong, so we felt prepared for everything to go well.
The 28th came, and it was the day to see if our baby was going to come out head first or arse first. I was excited to have a free scan and to see him again as I couldn’t wait to meet him. I lay on the bed and she scanned over my rather large belly; and there he was. Wiggling about and the right way up (Yippee!). There he was again, waving at us. The midwife found it hilarious that he was waving. That was it, then we went home.
Three days later on New Years Day I woke up to my baby not moving in my belly. I thought maybe he was resting, as the app on my phone suggested that might be the case. After about half an hour I got worried. Phil and I tried everything we normally did to get him moving. I drank lemonade, poked him, shook my by belly, and even showered as he loved water as much as I did.
I then made the hardest phone call to the hospital; I told them my baby wasn’t moving. I explained that I was 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant, and he normally never stops. I got told to come straight in to have him checked. We got put into a room, and I lay on the bed waiting. A lovely midwife came in, had a prod about, and tried to get his heartbeat on the CTG machine but she couldn’t tell if it was my heartbeat or his as I was so anxious. She ordered the consultant on call to come down and scan me ASAP. As I looked at Phil, we knew our baby was gone. I couldn’t control my shaking and I was scared. The Doctor came in and put the gel on my stomach and started scanning. There he was. Grey and still. No movements. Then it came; the worst sentence, the one that no parent ever wants to hear “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat”. The scream I let out I can only describe as a battle cry. It was the sort of scream that when I’m alone I think of it and it haunts me.
I didn’t understand, I had a scan just three days earlier and he was perfect. I had 23 days to go until he was due, and now he’s gone?! I looked at Phil, and he was crying; I’ve never seen him look so broken. Our world had ended. Why me? Why our baby? I blamed anything I could think of. I blamed myself for walking too far; I blamed the hospital for not predicting it; if I thought about it then I was going to blame it.
I don’t want to give birth…
What happens after they tell you your baby has died? They have to get a second person to confirm the death. The Senior Consultant came down and she said she was going to scan me again. I asked her not to tell me if there was no heartbeat as I didn’t want to hear it. “I’m sorry” I looked at her and broke down. I asked how he would get out. I was adamant I wanted a c-section as how could they expect anyone to give birth to a dead baby. They then went over the options and we agreed I would be induced and give birth naturally.
I was admitted to hospital on the Thursday and everything was started. As my baby had died they didn’t have to monitor him so I had any painkiller I wanted. On the Friday evening everything really got going. This was it, my son was going to be born. At 20:08 on Friday 5th January, our son, Dexy Jude Pontillo was born. weighing 7lb11oz, and 22″ long. Dexy was born into this world without a cry, without a beating heart.
Over the three days we spent with Dexy we took hundreds of photos and we behaved like a normal family. People came to meet Dexy, we cuddled him and the midwives treated him like any other baby. Because I had a PPH after giving birth and lost 2L of blood they had to monitor me and I also contracted an infection so I was on IV antibiotics and a lot of fluid, so in every photo I have with him I’m all puffy and swollen.
We left on the Sunday evening. Dexy was wrapped up all snug, he had my rabbit and blanket from when I was a baby, Phil’s necklace, and a Frida badge so he was part of our weird crew.
After you go through pregnancy/baby loss you lose yourself. I wondered if I was still a mum without my son. I wondered if I was ever going to be able to laugh again and not feel guilty for it. I felt alone and scared, I was sure of that.
I wanted to see if this happened to other people. I looked up the hashtag on Instagram “stillborn” and there it was, A community I didn’t want to be part of, but where I belonged. I spoke to other mums and families about the loss of their babies and I have made many friends. Anyone from this community will tell you that they would give up anything to have their babies back and it’s true. But as a community we know we need to support one another and keep our children alive by talking about baby loss and breaking the taboo of it.
After reading many blogs about families who have lost their babies I decided I would start one myself. It was the best decision I have ever made. I get to share my son’s life with everyone, I get to connect with amazing people, but more importantly I can raise awareness. I want the silence around pregnancy/baby loss broken. I want us to be able to show photos and talk about them like everyone else does with their living children, as they have lived inside of us.
No one wants to lose a baby, it’s the worst thing that can ever happen. But it’s opportunities like this that make you feel comfort in knowing that you are not alone. No one wants to be part of this community but we will greet you with open arms and help you in any way we can.