On March 11th 2020 I was 27+6 weeks pregnant with our first baby. I had an appointment for my 28 week check up, I had concerns about my baby’s movement but was told with an anterior placenta this could be why. They said everything was fine. I explained that I hadn’t really felt my baby kick properly and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be feeling. I was then put on a CTG machine and was told I would need to go to another hospital as the consultants were going home. I was reassured everything would be ok and I would be going home soon, It was just a precaution. I rang my partner Dan and asked him to pack me an overnight bag and to meet me at the hospital, there was no rush as everything was ok.
I was taken in an ambulance then hooked up to another CTG machine as soon as I arrived. What I didn’t realise, My life was about to change forever. A consultant stood over me and firmly told me they would be delivering my baby right now. The room filled up with medical staff, I laid there being undressed and prepared for an emergency c section. All I could see was bright lights above me, crying out “This can’t happen, it’s too early”.
I then woke up to meet our little boy Ewan, weighing just 2lb 8, he was perfect. I remember watching him laying in his incubator, so peaceful and tiny. We were told if he makes it through the night then he will be okay. Ewan was taken to a specialist hospital without me, over an hour away from our home. I could hear other mums with their babies crying and my arms were empty, I was alone.
The following day I was transferred to Ewan’s hospital where I could finally be with him. Ewan suddenly showed signs of how sick he really was but no one knew why. We were taken aside and told he may not make it as he was very sick, but still had no answers. We were then hit with lockdown and Dan was turned away at the door to the ward, and could no longer see Ewan. I was alone every day watching him fight for his life, while Dan waited patiently in hospital accommodation across the road for news.
Ewan was no longer getting better and would be resuscitated daily as his seizures became worse and treatment wasn’t working. Dan was told by Drs over a video call that Ewan may not be coming home. Ewan went through lots of tests and an MRI scan. We patiently waited on his results, I was endlessly googling and finding stories of parents taking their babies home in similar situations. I never gave up hope, and I always thought we would bring our boy home.
We were told the dreaded news that there was nothing else they could do for our little man. He had a very rare brain condition most of the doctors had never heard of, and it was time to turn his machines off. Dan was eventually allowed back into the hospital and we spent a couple of days saying goodbye, our family could not visit and say their goodbyes due to covid.
When the time came to turn Ewans machines off we read him ‘Guess how much I love you’ and before the nurses turned his machines off, Ewan took his last breath and took the most painful decision away from us and passed away peacefully in our arms. It was his time and he was ready to go. He was out of pain and free from all the machines. For the first time in 4 weeks the room was silent, no more alarms and Ewan was at peace.
We bathed and dressed him and had our last cuddles. We then had to leave without him. Our final goodbye. We drove home without our baby, just a box full of his things. The journey was silent, there wasn’t a single car on the road. We hadn’t left the hospital since we had arrived so didn’t realise the impact that covid had made.
His funeral came a week later and restrictions allowed us 12 people. We sat apart from each other, a time I just needed my family to hold me and they couldn’t. A few months later we finally got to register Ewan’s birth, we already had his death certificate but we never got to register his birth due to Covid.
Lockdown was a blessing in some ways as we could lock ourselves away and not see anybody. This got very easy though, I would spend months not seeing anyone and making excuses to be at home on my own, I took time off work and stepped down in my job role as I had lost all confidence, I was a different person now. I spent the next few months searching for mums who had been through similar situations, I needed to see that families got through this and if life can carry on?
I fell pregnant six months later. I felt so lucky to fall pregnant again but all I could think was that my baby is going to die, despite being told it was a low chance I just couldn’t let myself plan a life with our baby. I got worried people would judge me and think it was too soon and this baby was a replacement, no one could ever replace Ewan, I just needed a baby in my arms, I was given a chance to be a Mum again.
I was furloughed from work which meant months at home alone again. It was a very lonely pregnancy with lots of scans and a fetal MRI. I went through all the appointments alone due to Covid restrictions. I was told at 28 weeks my baby didn’t have the same condition. I thought I would feel such relief, but it brought it all back, why did this happen in the first place?
I was in and out of hospital towards the end of my pregnancy being monitored as midwives always wanted a second opinion, laying there hooked up just waiting to be told my baby had died. I would write down every single movement or kick, I would lie there and wonder if my baby was still breathing every minute of the day. My hospital bag was packed from 24 weeks and I was mentally and physically drained. We didn’t announce the pregnancy for a while, I hid away at home ‘just incase’.
I started to leave the house on occasions, but dreaded seeing anyone as I didn’t want to be congratulated or speak about this pregnancy. I remember paying for my shopping and being asked was this my first? I froze and said no, before I had the chance to say anything else she went on to say how it’s going to be hard with a little one running around and a new baby, I smiled and left. I spent the journey home crying, wondering the ‘What if’s’.
May 10th 2021 our beautiful girl was born weighing 7lb 7. We named her Nellie, which meant shining light. She really was our light at the end of the tunnel. The following day we got to take our baby home, I still couldn’t believe we got this far and made it home. Now a family of four.
I battle so much with my anxiety and fear that something will happen to Nellie. I am only used to my baby becoming sick and passing away, I really hope with time this will ease. Nellie will be 1 this year and I am forever wondering what our lives would be like if Ewan was still here with us, how much he would have loved his little sister. We will always involve Ewan in our lives and Nellie will know all about her big brother.
I am still faced with the dreaded question – is this my first? I have learnt to choose who to say yes and no to. This took me a while, as saying yes broke me, it was like Ewan never existed but to say ‘No, my baby died’, I couldn’t face the reaction on people’s faces and making them feel uncomfortable.
The world is still not a normal place to be in and I don’t think my life will ever be normal again, But I am learning a new normal and learning to smile again. It does get a little easier with time but the pain and trauma never leaves, you just learn to ride the waves. Our little boy will always be missing from our family, and we will never be complete.
For anyone reading this who has been through a similar situation go easy on yourself, do what’s right for you and don’t worry what you ‘think’ others are thinking. They’re very fortunate not to understand. Ewan made me a Mum and made me appreciate those small things in life and to keep going.
I will continue to live each day for our beautiful children, thank you for being ours.