With or Without …. What to say to a grieving mum

A lot of people have reached the dilemma of asking me if i’m alright but not being completely sure what to say when my reply is an honest no. People are in shock at the word no. I like to call it the silent bomb, with this one word people go to bits or run as fast as they can. So what should you ask a woman who’s lost her baby instead?
Here are some less silent bomb questions:
‘How did your baby die?’ – i love to talk about my Rosie, i’m still a proud mum.
‘What advice can you pass on to other pregnant women?’ – i still carried my baby for nine months and got to know every part of her growing inside of me, i can still advise others because i went through it.
‘Is it hard for you?’ – always prepare for a yes answer, instead of asking if someone grieving such a hard loss is alright this is a better alternative.
‘Could i come and see you at some point?’ – this is a great question because a lot of people will distance themselves as they don’t know what to say but guess what a grieving mum still needs friends. I still need to know that people care. Although if you were pregnant at the same time and have had a healthy baby you will more than likely get your offer rejected. Not because of you but because you have the thing that a mum to a stillborn most wants a healthy living baby. Pregnant friends will also cause a problem for a mum with a dead baby because it brings back pain to see someone’s child growing. I’m very protective over pregnant women, I want to make sure they are well and getting the right treatment and care they deserve. I always ask my mum how pregnant friends are doing. Its hard being around pregnant women and babies so I stay away from them its a sense of jealousy that they are pregnant when I wish I was still pregnant and also they are most likely to have a baby born alive. It isn’t your fault you move on in life and have happiness but respect the mum who lost their baby and let her come to you when or if she will ever be ready.
‘Can i see some pictures?’ – again i’m still a proud mum even though my baby is dead i love to show her off to people, this is what i created. Pictures are all we have left and the most amazing feeling comes across when someone asks to see Rosie because she was a real person not just a baby.
‘Are you going to have more children?’ – great question there, its the question everyone wants to know but feels horrible for asking. In most stillborn cases women get pregnant within five months of their stillborn child being born. For me this is not the right decision as i couldn’t cope with grieving and feeling joyous at the same time. I am mentally unable to cope with pregnancy right now. Also i do not trust the hospital so i wouldn’t want them dealing with another child of mine.
‘How are you coping not having those mummy things to do for your baby?’ – expect an honest answer, but its great that someone has acknowledged that you are a mum with nothing mummy to keep you occupied. I often feel lost, my arms are always empty when they should be filled with my Rosie. My body is crying out for something to nurture and the constant reminder that you are a mum with no baby is a mind bender.
‘Do you want to hear a joke?’ – yes! Grief doesn’t make you lose your sense of humour, sometimes i feel guilty for laughing and smiling because i should be sad all the time as my baby isn’t here but its so great to laugh. Its wonderful that someone wants to make you laugh and smile and its a much better gift than a sympathy card or bunch of flowers.

Speaking of sympathy cards and flowers, when someone has given birth to a dead baby they have still achieved something amazing, carrying a baby for so long, forming a human inside of you, knowing a special bond. Its something to celebrate, you made your baby, you knew and grew your baby you just lost your baby at the final hurdle. It doesn’t mean you are any less proud of the baby you grew and carried you are sad that you aren’t carrying your bundle home but there is still a massive sense of pride and achievement. So please don’t send sympathy cards and flowers send congratulations cards, congratulating the person on doing a wonderful job but acknowledging that they have a sad loss. Don’t make their home which will be their sanctuary for a few weeks miserable. A reminder of death isn’t a good thing but a reminder of achievement is a positive thing you can do for that person.
17 babies are born dead per day in the UK this is all too common and stillbirth isn’t spoken about by any midwife or antenatal nurse during pregnancy so it feels like its a taboo subject, like you can only talk about it if its happened to you and then you join the secret club like its something to be swept under the carpet. The fact is we don’t know why this happens, there is no way to know why stillbirth happens apart from research which is done by post mortem on the dead baby. I chose not to have a post mortem because i didn’t want to see my beautiful baby cut up. Those that do choose post mortem are amazing people and should be so proud of themselves for helping babies of the future survive because of the research their baby provide. We need to talk about stillbirth more because it happens so much for absolutely no reason. It isn’t a dirty little secret, it happens and we need to find a way to stop it happening.

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Here is my most treasured family portrait. My husband Andrew, me and our beautiful little Rose just after she was born. I show you my family portrait with pride and not sadness, my baby is beautiful but she was born in heaven and saw God‘s face first.

Lets have pride in our children that have died before they were born, they change the world and they change us.

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I Planted A Rose In Heaven

This is a time that I need to write about. My life needs to flow from speeches in my head to words in the world.

My baby died. My baby Rosie was stillborn.

I was 39 weeks and five days pregnant when I gave birth to Rosie. She went the whole way being that miracle baby that would survive anything. When I first found out I was pregnant the doctor told me to terminate as the baby was most likely not going to survive the first three months. I didn’t take that doctor’s advice, instead I went to a different doctor who would support me and my pregnancy. This doctor made sure I was supported and made sure I had a specialist consultant to keep a closer eye on me.

At nine weeks pregnant I began to bleed so a friend took me to the women and children’s unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. The unit was closed, no one was about except a maintenance man whom kindly took me the the early pregnancy unit just a few flights of stairs up from where I was. The unit was closed as it was a Sunday, I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t even know my way out so I took to the stairs again hoping i’d know my way when I got back to the bottom. I got to the bottom of the stairs quicker than anticipated as I fell down them and they are stone steps too. I had hit my hip and my legs and finally landed on my hands at the bottom of the steps. As this happened two nurses were walking down the corridor holding their lunches seeing what happened they decided to ignore me. In a heap of a mess of the floor crying and worried, even more worried now actually. Not one person helped me so when I picked myself up I walked out of the doors and sat in front of the women and children’s unit on the floor crying. Exclaiming to my friend that if i was losing the baby i’d rather lose it at home because no one in the hospital was going to help me anyway. I then went home and prayed, two hours later I had stopped bleeding much to my delight. I still had a sprained ankle from the fall and bruises on my hip and hands but  the baby was still there. Still growing. In my 14th week of pregnancy at the consultant lead appointment another reason to get worried arose when the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat of the baby by sound. Of course it was too early to hear a heartbeat at that time but being a first time mum I didn’t know that so again I began to panic and called my husband at work thinking we had lost the baby. Whilst my husband raced down to the hospital I had been in to an emergency scan and on the machine clear as day baby had a pumping heart. In the 28th week of pregnancy I hadn’t felt the baby move for two days, just as I was about to contact the midwife all of a sudden baby started kicking up a storm. The week after that I was in a car collision because I had gotten into a reckless taxi drivers car. This happened to be the first time I had ever put my seatbelt on in a taxi and it happened to stop me from being thrown through the windscreen. My tummy took full impact of the seatbelt so I was of course worried about the baby again. Rosie survived, she was fine, still making a fuss of herself in my tummy.

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So after all of that happening for our baby to die suddenly was much of a shock to us. My husband and I definitely thought that Rosie was a miracle that would survive anything, after all she wasn’t even supposed to have lived in my womb after the first three months. The week leading up to my due date My husband had taken time off work so we could walk as much as we could and eat as much hot curry as we could in order to get her out that little bit earlier. That week we walked so much I told my husband that I needed just one day to rest because I was exhausted and it looked like Rosie was going to come out only when she was ready to. That night during rest my husband and I spent the night talking to Rosie asking her to come out and meet us, Andrew, my husband was rubbing my belly telling Rosie that she was his little princess and that he was always going to call her his princess and try as much as he could to treat her like one. Rosie kicked so hard when he was talking to her that it made us both laugh and fall in love with her even more. I told Rosie how I was jealous because I always wanted to be somebodies princess and I always wanted a daddy to love me as much as her daddy loved her. That night we got so much response from Rosie we just sat there looking at one another holding my belly and talking to her.  Her due date was 14th January 2013 I went into labour the day after I had a rest on the 12th January 2013. I went into labour at 4.56am feeling very excited that soon we were going to meet our Rose. Four hours into labour I was worried, I hadn’t felt the baby move and contractions were five minutes apart lasting three to four minutes. I rang the delivery suite at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where I was asked the usual questions ‘how far apart are the contractions’ ‘is there any bloody show‘ which there wasn’t ‘have your waters broken’ Not at that point they hadn’t although I couldn’t tell because I was mainly on the loo weeing during contractions and the most important question ‘is the baby moving normally’ to which I answered no, I haven’t felt my baby move at all during labour. I proceeded to tell the midwife on the phone that I was worried because there was no movement. My husband then asked if we could go in to which the midwife said no because it didn’t sound like we were in established labour. My husband said that I was in too much pain and I was very worried that the baby wasn’t moving. Again we were told to definitely not go in until we were in established labour. We did as the midwife on the phone told us, I got in the bath took painkillers and thought to myself that I was worrying too much because I was a first time mum. I thought if Rosie was in any sort of danger the hospital would have our best interests at heart and get us in straight away. So I kept a sharp watch on my baby’s movements, there were definitely none and I was in a severe amount of pain so two hours after we originally called the delivery suite we called again begging the midwife on the phone to let me come in because I was in too much pain to bare with. The midwife asked all the same questions like it was a script, no there was no bloody show, no we didn’t think my waters had broken but we couldn’t be sure and most importantly no the baby wasn’t moving. The midwife very sternly told me that I could only go in if I ate at least one piece of toast which I had been throwing up everything my husband gave me to eat before she told me to eat, I told her that and again begged to come in, only if I ate would they let me in. How kind of them to bend the rules just for me. It took me an hour to eat one piece of toast which I immediately threw up, it then took me fifteen minutes to get downstairs where I was greeted by a man plumbing in a washing machine into my mum’s kitchen, we weren’t sure if the washing machine was going to come first or the baby. You know what appliance men are like, they take forever. That poor man was greeted by a woman in labour shouting at him to move his washing machine so I could get out to the taxi, I think I even saw him break a sweat. If he thought plumbing a washing machine in was hard he almost had to help me with my plumbing area. After leaping out of the way and pushing a washing machine all on his own I managed to get out to the taxi. Probably one of the eldest taxi drivers I have ever had talked to us the whole time he was driving us to delivery unit about his children’s births. How I managed to smile politely every time he looked at me through the mirror rather than telling him to shut up unless he had any drugs i’ll never know. An hour and a half after calling the delivery suite again I then arrived, one midwife was assigned to me. She said I was one centimeter dilated which I was shocked about as my contractions were consistently five minutes apart. She then put the heart monitor around my belly to find Rosie’s heartbeat she said she heard it the first time but then after that took two different machines in with different leads some of which weren’t even plugged in and tried to find babies heartbeat again. She hadn’t found it after almost an hour of looking. In my opinion should there have been a doctor? Yes and should I have been treated as an emergency case even before I arrived at the hospital? Yes. The most crucial minutes of my Rosie’s life had been frittered away by one midwife not allowing us to come in when we first rang up worried and then by a midwife trying to do everything on her own not even checking equipment properly. The moments my baby had to survive were taken away by people who thought they knew best because they were the experts. It proves that some medical staff don’t listen to the patient and sometimes they even block the patient. Throughout my entire pregnancy I hadn’t had faith in the hospital because of how I was treated and in the end they didn’t do all they could to save my baby. After the heartbeat wasn’t found on the monitor a young doctor came in with a mobile scan machine and said he didn’t think there was a heartbeat but he needed a second opinion. Seven hours my husband and I waited for a second opinion holding on to that one bit of hope and faith we had left, We even felt her move during that time and praised for it was a miracle and she’d prove them wrong, oh how I believed that Rosie would prove the medical professionals wrong. We didn’t feel her move after that one time and then the second doctor came and did a scan and told us that our baby was dead. In those seven hours we prayed and asked others to pray, we phoned family telling them to hold on to hope and it was all for nothing. Our baby was dead inside of me. I had Rosie quite quickly after we were told she was dead it was just over an hour after we were told. Rosie was born at 22.56 that same day. She was born still with the cord wrapped around her neck and left side of her body, she was covered in a type of poo babies do inside the womb if they are in distress. That was the day I planted my beautiful pink Rose in heaven.

We gave her a bath and dressed her in pink and kept her overnight. I didn’t sleep that night. We were put into a different delivery room next to another girl in labour, in the early hours of that morning she gave birth and I heard her baby cry, I looked to my baby thinking she was crying I went to soothe her but I realised it couldn’t be my baby, my baby was dead. The moses basket we were given for Rosie wasn’t the best, it was lined with towels as I assume they didn’t have cot sheets and the stand was broken which meant it was unsturdy and wobbled it lent to one side too which meant that Rosie’s face turned down to one side and it made her face droop. The smallest details meant so much at that time and we weren’t given the best for our daughter. Perhaps she didn’t matter as much as the babies that were born alive but this was the only time we would ever spend with our baby and it was made impossible to deal with.  The next day we said our hello’s and goodbye’s to Rosie, invited her grandparents to meet her and did a lot of crying and cuddling. Rosie started to deteriorate really quickly because the cold cot wasn’t working properly. They had brand new cold cots which is just a gel mattress put under the baby to keep her cold so as to preserve her body longer. image

Rosie’s nose started to bleed and her skin started to bubble up and tear it was awful to watch this happen to a baby that looked so perfect and doll like when she came out. I asked and asked and asked so many times for the midwives to take her away and put her in the morgue. My heart was breaking watching my baby look like she was dead. The midwives wouldn’t take her away. We asked continuously for six hours for them to take her away and all they said was they were sorting it out. We took lots of pictures, treasured her body in our arms and kept a lock of her hair and prints of her hands and feet and then finally we waited for a taxi empty armed and broken hearted to take us back home.

This is how my pink perfection ended up in heaven and this is the beginning of my middle.

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