40 stories for #Sands40
40 stories for #Sands40, | 11 April 2019

As part of Sands 40th anniversary, we have collected 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby, helping them cope and feel less isolated in their grief. These stories are powerful in helping us end the taboo of talking about baby loss and raise awareness of stillbirth and neonatal deaths. Discover 40 stories for #Sands40 

On 13th June last year Jack should have been 10 years old, on the 14th June last year it was 10 years since he died. His short life, just 19 hours, changed my life forever.

Jack was my second child. We had longed for a baby, longed for a family. It had taken four years and two rounds of IVF to conceive Jack’s older brother Oliver, but incredibly just eight months after Oliver was born I found out I was pregnant again. Naturally, a miracle.

There would be just 17 months between my babies, a dream come true. I was anxious about having two so close in age, and very excited! By 28 weeks my bump continued to grow and grow. Jack was breach which meant I was possibly looking at a C-section. I took some herbal tablets and fortunately (or so I thought at the time) Jack turned at around 36 weeks.

I was still growing and my bump was enormous, measuring 48cm! I had a scan which showed the baby was a normal size but I had polyhydramnios (very high fluid levels). As the next few weeks went on every part of me swelled, walking was becoming impossible for me and looking after a 17 month old who had just mastered walking was very tricky!

I went back to the hospital and again was reassured at 39 weeks that Jack would be around 7-8lbs (like my first). The consultant refused when I asked to be induced and said I needed to be patient!

He said induction was contraindicated with polyhydramnios but I knew this was based on very new evidence and did not reflect the practice in other countries. My mention of this angered the consultant who rudely asked me what I did for a living. When I said I was a teacher, he asked if he could train to do that by researching on the internet?

I left the hospital angry and extremely uncomfortable.  I called the hospital stating I was worried and they agreed I could see a different consultant.

Four days later I thought my waters were leaking, I went back to the hospital. A new consultant saw me and decided to start the induction process. This was long but I coped well with the pain despite Jack being back to back.

At 3pm on 13th June I was asked if I wanted a C-section having been in labour for days. At 6.30pm I was ready to start pushing the midwife called for back-up and despite a few concerned looks that they couldn’t pick up babies heart beat they felt it was progressing well, and when I asked for an episiotomy to speed it up (needed with my first son) they said it was necessary as his head was descending well.

In the last few minutes chaos ensued. As Jack’s head was born it was clear he was stuck at the shoulders, the emergency cord was pulled but fell away from the wall not sounding an alarm. One of the midwives ran out of the room to shout for help. Loads of midwives rushed in. They attempted to get Jack out. Eventually a doctor came in, performed an episiotomy and he was born. Dead. Technically dead.

Then it felt like hundreds of people ran around, trying to resuscitate my very big baby (10lbs 2oz). It took 25 minutes of what felt like a life time, the horror story I replay over and over, clock watching, screaming (not sure if this was internal or external).

As my baby was rushed to neonatal, I went numb. I shouted that his name was Jack. An hour or so later I asked a midwife if he was alive. She was shocked I didn’t know and said he was.

They came in and explained he was being transferred to another hospital, they then bought him in to see me. I loved him, he looked to me just like Oliver, he opened his eyes and I felt like he looked at me when I said his name. We took photographs and a video (which was devastatingly later lost) and he was wheeled out fully ventilated in an incubator.

By then my mum was there. My then husband went with his parents to follow the ambulance. My mum must have clicked that Jack might not survive and said she would go home and stay with Oliver so my dad could see Jack.

We arrived eventually at Medway Hospital and I was taken in a wheelchair to the Oliver Fisher Unit. My dad came in with me but was so distressed he almost passed out. The next thing I remember is just me and the neonatal staff, I sat for hours and hours stroking Jack, talking to him, singing to him, telling him stories. His condition was so much worse since I saw him at the first hospital. He didn’t open his eyes, looked swollen and fitted constantly, I cried and cried - it was heart-breaking.

I text friends and prayed and prayed. I met with a neonatal consultant who said we were all just praying for a miracle. Jack was unlikely to survive and we would likely need to make some difficult decisions about life support after around five days.

At lunchtime they said I needed to eat I went back to the side room in the postnatal ward (where everyone has their babies) and ate a sandwich. After a few minutes a midwife rushed in and said I needed to get back to the neonatal unit quickly.

When I got there, I was told I didn’t need to scrub in, the doors flew open, somebody said his heart was slowing and Jack was placed in my arms. I asked for him to be christened before they took the ventilator out, a wonderful priest came and christened him. My ex screamed and cried he wished it was him and not Jack. I cried but felt oddly peaceful, my baby would soon be out of pain.

The wonderful nurses photographed the whole process the most heart-breaking precious pictures.

After some time I left the room, they removed the ventilator and bought Jack into a family room in a Moses basket, where we took hand prints, washed him, dressed him, hugged him but then I just wanted him left, not pulled and prodded.

As the colour left his skin I wanted to be home, I wanted to see Oliver. I regret not staying longer, I regret not holding him more, but I know now that I can’t go back, I can’t change anything.

Oliver was my saviour but life was hard. There will forever be a ‘me before Jack’ and a ‘me after’. I grieved, I became depressed, I had another baby, my gorgeous George Jack. I was determined to be a good mum, but I struggled. I struggled every single day.

Three years later they finally held an inquest where they found death by misadventure - a catalogue of errors resulting in complete occlusion of the cord and inevitable oxygen starvation.

Soon after, my marriage ended. Forward 10 years and I am now remarried, have a successful career as a special needs teacher and my boys continue to be wonderful.

During my darkest times Sands was amazing, I loved my Sands group sessions, where I could be Jack’s mum and the wonderful supportive friends I made. I only see them a few times a year now.  Family life and working full time is busy, but they will always hold a special place on my heart and I couldn’t be without them.

Jack Michael Hunter 13/06/2008 - 14/06/2008.

Picture: Baby Jack.

Sadly 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriage or stillbirth. This means every 90 minutes a family experiences this devastating tragedy.  We want to reduce this number, but we need your help.  



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