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.
Nothing and no one can take away the heartache of a stillborn birth of your baby.
I know this from experience of 52 years heartbreak and regret that I never experienced my child growing up and the love denied me from nurturing my child and still in this the twenty first century it still goes on for thousands of parents - WHY?
I was 17 years old, unmarried and pregnant due to low self-esteem and unable to say no. I took full responsibility for my predicament but did not expect to be treated in the horrendous way that I was during the birth of my baby at full term.
I never knew why my baby was stillborn, there was no explanations nor any compassion for my loss.
No one appeared to care that I was terrified, giving birth alone because my sister was refused permission to stay with me and no one cared enough to even tell me the sex of my child.
The midwife who delivered my baby simply said: "You know your baby is dead so you have a good cry" before she whisked my baby away into another room.
Then I was put in a side room and left sobbing all night alone until a nurse came in at around five next morning and abruptly told me to stop my crying, as I was keeping the mothers awake who would be needed to feed their babies in another hour.
It was the 6th August 1966 when this occurred and on the morning of the next day my parents were allowed in to see me. My dad informed me I had given birth to a baby girl who was only three and a half pounds in weight with some kind of deformity.
My parents were very upset and I begged them to take me home. Later that day I was allowed to leave hospital into the care of my parents and my GP.
I was traumatised, confused and felt like my heart was broken. I may have been only 17 but I wanted my baby and had all the maternal instincts of any expectant mother.
Due to my parents not knowing how to deal with this they believed that it was for the best that no one spoke of this again.
Consequently I was not able to grieve or talk to anyone about the stillbirth of my baby and for 30 years I feared she had been thrown into an incinerator until after enquiries led me to the local cemetery where I learned my baby girl had been buried with an unknown adult.
This gave me some relief and especially when told there was a baby remembrance garden for bereaved mothers such as myself to visit.
Later I had bereavement counselling and named my baby Mandy, was able to speak openly about her birth and even able to tell my adult two sons about the sister they never knew about. They cried tears of regret and so did I.
I have no proof of why my baby was stillborn but after becoming a nurse I realised that I had Toximia and also placenta previa due to bleeding during labour, with my next two pregnancies resulting in my two sons.
I apparently suffered Toximia again but milder and caught earlier. I believe no one could have prevented my stillbirth but the treatment I received certainly could have been more caring and compassionate.
Thank goodness that today grieving parents get the caring and compassion they surely need and also memories to treasure.
I never saw my baby or got the chance to hold her, it was treated as though it never happened and was best forgotten. I cannot and never will forget, this heartache I suffer will not let me.
I pray that someday soon the nightmare of stillbirths will be lessened when research discovers a way to prevent this happening.
15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. We want to reduce this number, but we need your help. Support Sands now to help ensure a bereaved parent doesn't have to cope alone. Thank you.