Just after we got home from our honeymoon in March 2020, we found out we were pregnant!
This was our 4th pregnancy but sadly we had never gone past 10 weeks so whilst we were excited we tried to not get ahead of ourselves and waited it out until our 12 week scan.
We couldn’t quite believe it when we got to the 12 week mark, I went in alone for my first ever scan and was petrified as to what they would find, and to my complete shock they saw a perfectly formed 12 week old baby. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, and couldn’t believe my husband had seen 4 empty wombs in our other visits, and yet now was sitting out in the car, nervously biting his nails waiting for an update.
I came out of my appointment and broke down into tears and he assumed the worst, but after getting myself together I told him ‘we are going to have a baby, its actually happening!’.
The next few weeks were a blur as my sickness was awful, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum and was prescribed heavy anti sickness tablets, and had to bear a few painful hospital stays but throughout our wee baby stayed strong.
I rented a home scanning device for my husband birthday so he could get to know his wee baby too, and wee also booked a gender scan at 16 weeks, which confirmed to our absolute delight we were having a boy. We already knew his name – Torin Mackay.
On the way home we stopped off and bought blue paint, and a wee teddy for him, and rushed home to paint the nursery. For a few weeks my sickness seemed to subside a little, and we spent our time organising everything we would need, sorting out finances, getting items donated by friends….and generally rewriting our lives as new parents.
The 20 week scan came and went. This was it. we were due no more scans as everything looked great, my belly looked big and pregnant, and the village was full of friendly neighbours all excited about the arrival of a new bundle of joy.
One Sunday at around 6 months pregnant, I noticed some strange discharge down below and after a brief check with a midwife, went to hospital to have further checks done.
We got to the hospital about 3pm on the 16th August and rushed us straight through for examination. People were coming and going so quickly. Nurses in uniforms, men in shirts and ties….and Ewen and I were both still unaware of what was happening.
Over the next few hours we had many visits from medical professionals and the news got worse and worse and it started to dawn on me that this was serious. They began talking about an infection that my body was fighting, and that had caused me to go into early labour. They would do all they could to keep Torin inside for as long as possible, as chances of survival at this stage are slim. I spent the following hours lying at a gradient in a hospital bed, completely powerless to what was going on. I began getting regular cramping pains. The nurses asked me to tell them every time I got a pain – I did this. I didn’t know why they were asking me to do that though.
The pain got so bad I was given morphine, and fell asleep for a while. I was woken up by the hospital staff who wanted to do a scan. This was so reassuring as we saw him, he was happy and healthy and I thought – it’s going to be ok. He’s ok.
I didn’t know I was in active labour
I didn’t know I was going to give birth in the next few hours to days
I didn’t know he was coming now
I didn’t know what would happen
I didn’t know my waters would break
I didn’t know I would feel him leave me
I didn’t know the moment he left me would be the moment he had his last breath.
After another shot of morphine, I fell asleep again, and woke up at about 3pm feeling my whole body vibrating. I didn’t know what this was. I moved and felt the bed was soaking, I was so confused. The nurse stood me up but I felt this huge pain in-between my legs making it difficult to walk. The nurse told me there and then, that was his head and we needed to move fast to the toilet.
My husband carried me over to the toilet and I sat down and it was at that moment, that I realised what was happening. I was giving birth to our little boy, into a cardboard urine pan. I was trying with everyone muscle in my body to keep him in, but he came out and I heard him drop into the bedpan. The moments in-between him being born, and the nurse standing me up so she could get to him seemed to go on forever.
I will never forget my son in the cardboard pan struggling to breath. We were his parents, and we couldn’t save him. We couldn’t do anything.
The nurse ushered me back to the bed and suddenly asked if we wanted to hold him. We weren’t prepared for this. No one told us we might have the opportunity to hold him. I was petrified. I didn’t know if I wanted to hold my dead baby boy. I didn’t know if I could hold my dead baby boy. My husband said we should, I took my hospital gown off and held him against my skin. He was so small. He gasped for air, which instinctively made me do the same. That was painful to watch and has scarred me for life. My husband held him too. That is an image I will never ever forget. 16.55 on the 17th August 2020, the only time I got to the see the two most special people in my life together.
The rest…..well the rest doesn’t matter. The rest was a nightmare as Torin was gone. He slept beside us in a little room, in a wee basket but I could barely come to terms with visiting him. We left the hospital the next day after saying goodbye, and came home by ourselves.
At the house we were surrounded my memories we hadn’t yet had the chance to make. All the kindness from our family and friends, now ghostly reminders of what we lost resulting in a list of things to do neither of us were in the right frame of mind to deal with.
We had the funeral on the 1st September, it was just us and Torin. Ewen and I are both musical and were looking forward to singing to him, and teaching him to play guitar, so we took the only chance we would have to sing to our boy and sang to him there. We went back the next day and picked him up, and took him home, in a box.
On his due date we scattered his ashes in the garden and we have a small amount in a keepsake urn which I kiss every day.
Whilst the hospital team did all they could, we were so naïve to what was happening, and some clarity or the offer or a discussion around what might happen would have been really welcome. I know not everyone wants to know, but I didn’t know anything and still to do this day I haven’t processed it. I still go over things in my head that just don’t make sense.
I still relive the moment the nurse asked me if I wanted to hold him and that my answer was that I didn’t know. I wish a nurse or midwife sat me down and asked – would you like to discuss what could happen and what it could be like.….you might go into labour, these pains you are feeling are contractions, your water will probably break, we try to give birth in the bed but occasionally this has to happen in the bathroom, you may get a chance to hold him afterwards if we are able to. Not everyone will want this, but the option is so SO important.
I can’t describe how much we miss Torin. We love him so much, but never get to talk to about him or mention his beautiful name. People don’t know what to say so don’t say anything, and the result of that is that it’s like he never existed. But we will talk about him everyday, for the rest of our lives.
We received some one to one concealing from James Support Group, a local charity based in Cromarty (Highlands of Scotland) who focus on bereavement and suicide support. We weren't really given many options for support at the hospital. A midwife gave us a single piece of paper with a local support group, and mentioned Sands to us too, but we had just lost our son. At that moment we didn't know what we needed. To be honest, I still don't think we know.