On Sunday, May Bank Holiday 2019, what shouldve been the most joyous 24 hours turned into our worst nightmare. The series of events are so clear and daily I replay them in my mind and the question is why us?  I was 39 weeks 5 Days pregnant, having had a smooth & healthy pregnancy thus far.

When I woke up that Sunday morning, the sun was shining and life was good. I had been experiencing some mild contractions but nothing untoward, I still however called the pregnancy advice line. I was advised to carry on the day as normal and to call if the pains were more frequent.

Later that evening, I went for a shower and the contractions were beginning to get stronger and soon after I lost my mucas plug. I called the hospital to inform them Id like to come in as I had also noticed that I was bleeding and immediately started to worry.

As we arrived in the hospital, I was sent up to triage and by this point the contractions were bad, I was finding it difficult to walk unaided and couldn’t get onto the bed to lie on my back. Eventually, the midwife said I was 7cm dilated and was ready to deliver my baby. As I was wheeled down to the delivery suite, I felt the urge to push. The pains were excruciating by this point, once again I was having difficulty getting onto the bed and onto my back. Midwives were unable to strap the heart rate monitor around my tummy, so it had to be held by a midwife. 

My exact words were “This pain is something else”.  Having gone through labour before, I knew instantly that this didnt feel right. With every push, nothing was happening. The terms decel and OP were used but I was in too much pain to understand what was happening.

The next thing I knew, Im having a cannula inserted into my hand and attempting to sign a consent form at the same time (which I was unable to do due to the severe pain),  my husband had to sign on my behalf. I was being rushed into theatre for an emergency c-section. Why? Well, we werent told. Communication between staff and us wasnt particularly great.

In theatre, I remember hugging and crying to a midwife as I was in so much pain. I gritted my teeth and squeezed a pillow so tightly; then the spinal block was done. The pain subsided a little, and I knew I was getting closer to holding my baby.  Well, not quite… I was told to continue to push? Trying to push with no feeling waist down was difficult. After a few attempts, the anaesthetist reassured us that in two minutes we would be holding our baby. Towels went up and waiting, waiting for the cries of a newborn. Instead, all we heard were compressions 3,2,1… 3,2,1.

Suddenly, the theatre was filled with even more staff.  Neonatal were being called and it was complete pandemonium.  My husband just continued stroking my hair and all I kept saying was “This is rubbish”. No one was communicating with us, we didnt know what was happening.  We didnt even know if wed had a boy or a girl. All we knew was that our baby was poorly.

After about 15 minutes, a midwife informed us that we had a baby boy and they were trying to establish a heart rate. Teams were on hand to get him transferred to St Georges Hospital for further treatment. Why? We werent told.  I then went into shock, there were pools of blood on the floor. I was sick and was slowly losing consciousness. I was given more anaesthetic and the last thing I remembered was the consultant with a blood splattered visor.

As I underwent surgery, my husband was sat in a room alone, head in hands wondering what would happen over the next few hours. Not knowing if I or Joshan would make it through; he began thinking of what life would be like as a single dad to our six-year-old son. He started texting parents and siblings in hope that someone would be awake at 4am.  He explained that both I and Joshan were slipping, and to make their way to the hospital.

At 5am, the consultant came to see him and explained that my uterus had ruptured but luckily he managed to repair it and save my life.  As I came out of theatre, my husband informed me that unfortunately Joshan isnt well. The prognosis doesnt look good and the doctors want to know if we want to hold him with or without the ventilator.

I was completely numb, emotionless and simply said “Without the ventilator, lets not let him suffer any longer than he should”.  I didnt even shed a tear, mustve been the shock, morphine, anaesthetic ; no idea. 

As doctors took Joshan out of the incubator, they placed him in my arms. He was absolutely perfect, beautiful hair and a little button nose that was red due to some bleeding. I was so weak and had cannulas in both arms that I was unable to hold him for too long. I passed him to my husband and Joshans breathing became exasperated over time. He took his last breaths in my husbands arms, which to this day I remember so very clearly. 7:45am to be precise, only 7 hours on this earth.

That Bank Holiday Monday was a bleak day indeed, parents and siblings came to visit me. What shouldve been a joyous visit was one of much sadness. We all cried and tried to comfort one another the best way we could.  The Bereavement Midwife, came in to see us. All I remember was drifting off subconsciously whilst she talked through grief, support, memory boxes.

My Post Recovery Midwife was amazing – she would bring Joshan into our room when family members came to visit, took a lot of photos and was a great support. Joshan left the hospital on Wednesday to go to Great Ormond Street for the post mortem. 

During my six night stay, I had multiple blood transfusions, MRI scans, many antibiotics and restless nights. Being in the maternity ward probably didnt help and all I wanted was to go home. Leaving the hospital was bittersweet, instead of leaving with our baby boy, I had a bag full of antibiotics and injections.

Entering the house was so emotional, thankfully my husband had put all the baby stuff back into the loft. The only thing that was visible was the new changing table full of baby-grows all folded, Marie Kondo style.

During those first few weeks, we were visited by community Midwifes, safeguarding teams, HSIB, friends and family. The world kept on moving and all I wanted was it to stand still whilst I processed what had just happened. Instead of planning our first family photo shoot, I was planning a funeral. We decided on a simple service, led by a celebrant followed by afternoon tea. It was perfect with just our immediate family.  I did feel somewhat lighter after the funeral, knowing that Joshan was now at peace.

The post mortem results showed Joshan to be a healthy baby, no genetic defects, he was simply perfect. He had Hypoxia (deprived of oxygen) when he slipped out of my uterus but for how long, we do not know and we will never know. 

All I know is that I had all the symptoms for placental abruption/uterine rupture, which were consistent pain/contractions, bleeding and deceleration of heart rate. They werent picked up by midwives/doctors until an emergency c-section was performed. I now urge pregnant ladies who present these symptoms to voice their concerns immediately during labour.

Now, eighteen months on, the grief has subsided a little, but certainly hits you in waves. Our case is now going to Inquest as per the Coroners request.  I am now part of the MVP (Maternity Voices Partnership) team where we are looking at how maternity services can be improved within our local trust. I have been involved in Focus Groups within the BAME community. It is important to recognise how/why BAME women are five times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth, which I can resonate with as I almost lost my life.

The support after loss is a struggle but have been so grateful to those who have reached out to me and shared their experience. Unfortunately were not alone and this makes me so sad that many have and/or will experience baby loss.  My mission now is to raise awareness, and I hope Im able to save a babys life and parents heartache.

 Thank you for reading

Bhavna x

Instagram ~ @b_at_beauty

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