As part of Sands 40th anniversary this year, we will share 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby. Starting during Sands Awareness Month and our #FindingTheWords campaign, we aim to show the sheer number of people who are affected by the tragedy of a baby’s death, help other bereaved parents to understand they are not alone and raise awareness of the issues surrounding stillbirth and neonatal death. Visit our 40 stories for #Sands40 to view other blogs in the series.
Please be warned, this isn't a magical birth story. There is no hypnobirthing or wonderful water birth. It's real and raw, it's graphic but I'm not going to apologise for saying it how it was. This is how my precious boy arrived in the world, and he deserves me to tell the story the way it happened. Because if I could have changed the outcome, I would have in a heartbeat.
I had a rough pregnancy. After 6 months of trying to conceive we were overjoyed to find out I was pregnant on 27th September 2017.
Our excitement didn't last long as I started bleeding just three days after seeing those two little lines. Of course, we immediately thought the worst but after several trips to Early Pregnancy Unit, our little bean was growing perfectly. I, however was still bleeding daily and in and out of hospital, with no known cause. Fast forward to 21 weeks, which is where Jonah's birth story begins.
Monday 29th January had been a pretty quiet day, however at 8pm that all changed. I was lying on the bed and turned to my husband and said "I'm bleeding". I had been spotting everyday but this felt a trickle, much like a period, so knew immediately and rushed to the bathroom. A large gush of blood into the toilet. We called Triage and I somehow calmly, managed to speak to the midwife who had asked if Jonathan could bring me in. I agreed and put down the phone.
A few seconds later, another gush of blood, this time with clots and I vividly remember this weakness suddenly rushing over me. I could no longer physically sit up properly and had resorted to resting my head against the wall.
Of course, the next step was to ring 999 and get an ambulance. The operator advised getting me onto the floor, so I laid on several towels, for 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. During this time I'd soaked through them, but could still feel Jonah moving around and I had no pain at all.
The paramedics put up some fluids and carried me down the stairs to the ambulance. It was the longest journey to the hospital I've ever had. They estimated around a 2 litre blood loss at home. I specifically remember them saying: "We're going straight to delivery because she's over 20 weeks."
I was greeted by several midwives and doctors, who brought in the portable scanner to see what was going on. I knew Jonah was fine even before they scanned, and sure enough there he was kicking away on the screen. As soon as I was settled on the ward, Jonathan was sent home.
At 4am, I began to bleed again. The now familiar, weakness came over me. I vomited several times and remember not feeling like I could physically even roll over. I was nil by mouth and was shouting "I'm thirsty" over and over again - of course I was, I'd lost a lot of fluid.
Jonathan was on his way back to the hospital and arrived during all the chaos. I specifically remember the midwife saying: "If you were over 24 weeks pregnant, they would have got him out by now." This is something that has played on my mind over and over again.
A few hours later, at 7:45am, the bleeding began again. This time it was huge. Like nothing I'd ever seen before. This is where everything becomes a little patchy and surreal. I was in and out of consciousness, but told I was being taken to theatre so they could manage me more effectively.
I was wheeled around to theatre and surrounded by 15-20 medical professionals, each trying to tell me what was happening and inserting more lines into my veins to ensure they could give me everything they needed to.
The blood was still coming, clots the size of my fist were being passed over and over again. I was told we were waiting for the surgeon to arrive and he would explain what was going to happen during surgery. At this point, I knew Jonah would be born in the next few hours.
Around me were anaesthetists, doctors, midwives, nurses, but I remember one specifically. She held my hand, looked me in the eye and said: "All of these people are here to save your life, you are going to be okay".
I was asked to sign a consent form for the surgery and the consultant arrived and explained that they needed to get Jonah out as quickly as possible and that a C-section was the only option at this time.
The last thing I said before being put to sleep was: "I'm frightened, I need to see my little girl.” I wholeheartedly believe she is the reason I pulled through and I'm sat here today.
At 8.50am on 30th January, Jonah George was born sleeping peacefully weighing 13oz and perfect in every way.
Surgery was predicted to last 90 minutes, I woke up five hours later. This is when I realised something massive had happened in theatre.
Unfortunately, surgery hadn't gone as smoothly as predicted. The surgeon was unable to stop the bleeding from my placenta. In total I lost around 9 litres of blood and received 16 pints of blood - twice the amount in your body.
I was put in an induced coma for two hours, whilst I was stabilised before being taken to the high dependency unit. I have been told by lots of the staff from theatre, that I am very lucky to be alive, a very difficult concept to get your head around.
The following day I was moved to a private room back on Central Delivery Suite. We were incredibly lucky to have a cold cot, which meant Jonah could stay with us for the whole time I was in hospital.
I am so thankful for those days, so we could make some memories and spend some time with our precious little boy.
I will forever be thankful to the bereavement midwife who pushed us to have some photos with Jonah from medical photography, we now have a very special album of his pictures. We were also given a memory box with hand and footprints, as well as Jonah's clothes.
Leaving the delivery suite without your baby, is hands down the worst thing anyone can ever have to do. A midwife walked us out to the car and suddenly reality hit that I didn't get to take Jonah home. Instead, we would be spending the next few weeks planning his funeral.
We're suddenly in a club, that nobody wants to be a member of. Our family will always have an empty chair at the table, a missing piece.
Violet's little brother will forever be in our hearts but not our arms. But I'm going to do absolutely everything in my power to make sure Jonah's name is spoken and his memory is kept alive. I will make you proud little man, I promise.
Photo: Baby Jonah's footprints.
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