It’s not all rainbows and unicorns

It had taken two years to get to our boys and they were gone before we had even really understood what was happening.

Finding out that my wife was pregnant again was a huge shock and one of the best kept secrets we’ve ever had.

Wary of getting excited and still wounded from the previous experience we kept it all very closely guarded telling only those that needed to know and only when it became obvious that baggy jumpers can only go so far.

We were lucky to still be in counselling so we had help to try and deal with the twin challenges of coping with bereavement and expecting a baby. We had excellent continuity of care and it was only when we hit the postnatal ward that care collapsed totally. The subsequent pregnancies were very different.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point is more that, much like well-intentioned people seeking to minimise loss, many health professionals along the way worked on the basis that live children were magical. The birth of a new life would heal all the wounds, the pain, sadness and rage of stillbirth. All of our meekly raised concerns it would happen again were baseless! Ridiculous! Preposterous!

It could all be airily dismissed as parental neuroticism and our irrational fear defeated by the cold, unquestionable certainty of statistics.

Statistics are not our friends. We had been told that it would be nearly impossible to conceive.

The chances of twins, tiny. Identical twins, tinier still. Acute twin to twin transfusion syndrome occurring at such a late stage in pregnancy also statistically unlikely.

In every way we fell into the improbable sometimes for the good but where it mattered we fell into the wrong percentile. The one where you go home with empty arms.

So, no. Telling us the chances of stillbirth occurring are small doesn’t reassure us. It doesn’t erase the image of unmoving children on an ultrasound when we go for a scan. It doesn’t stop me mentally preparing a eulogy.

When my wife scoured Dr Google for assessment on risk factors, care guidelines and options for early induction she did so because no-one else would listen to her concerns and answer her questions. These weren’t quack websites but peer reviewed journals, official materials on perinatal loss. All of it cast aside as if it had no more credibility then the back of a cereal packet.

When we raised concerns that measurements weren’t being tracked, that referrals weren’t happening to follow up and that there were reduced fetal movements we were ignored or treated for the wrong thing.

“Well, you’re not in labour and it’s not contractions. Go home and take some paracetamol for the pain”

“I know I’m not in labour and I’m not in pain. I’m here because I can’t feel my baby”.

*puzzled* “There are movements. Look” *taps print out*. “See? Nothing to worry about”

We know from the latest research that we were right to be concerned. That basic care guidelines are being ignored. It’s so draining to be asked for the nth time “is this your first?” and having to explain over and over what could have been answered by reading the front page of the maternity notes or just looking at the big sticker used to alert staff of previous loss.

So many pointless deaths not from malice or disease but shortcuts and sloppy practices. There is a yawning gap between the public lip service paid to initiatives like Count the Kicks and actually acting on it when parents are brave enough to risk the derision, ridicule and disbelief of the people they are counting on to help.

We are far from being an isolated instance. Other blogs, message boards will tell similar tales of woe.

There are good people out there acting with compassion and professionalism but they are in danger of being eclipsed by the bad.

There is no triumph in having your worst fears realised.

A Bit Of Everything

13 Comments Add yours

  1. kerryann says:

    I am so sorry for your loss! Experiencing a stillborn birth is a lifelong sentence to grieve an empty seat at the dinner table, to mourn a birth date and agonise over the guilt of having failed. I wish you both all the best in this challenging time. #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thanks for your kind comments. The report issued today has some lots of research and insight into what are too many preventable deaths and empty seats and empty arms.

      Like

  2. I’m so sorry for you loss! No parent should have to go through that and definitely not when your wife knew something was wrong and the doctors kept ignoring her. Too often, doctors ignore patients because they have some sort of no-at-all complex and if a machine isn’t picking up on anything, why should the patient? I am so sorry you had to go through this. #abitofeverything

    Like

  3. The Anxious Dragon says:

    I have spoken to several mums both here in blogger land and in real life who echo your words. A new bby is seen as a wonderful plaster that can be stuck over any previous baby loss hurt, with no understanding of the (often jistified) fears and concerns that come from having gone through an experience like that. Im sorry you and so many others have and are being treated this way, its not right.
    Tracey xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thank you. Things will change. We will make them change.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. agentspitback says:

    I am sorry for all that you have gone through and it is true, medical professionals do not like to be questioned but things do have to change with the advent of modern technology. With access to information and choices, I think people have to start listening more. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      There have been encouraging signs that there is a willingness to change and listen. There’s a lot of culture and stigma to get through first.

      Like

  5. Thank you for this post – and for blogging about your experience.

    I have had some good sources of support while preparing for my unborn daughter’s death, both within the medical system and among friends and family, but fear is something people find difficult to acknowledge. They try to talk me out of it, they give me statistics, they tell me to wait and see – when actually just a little bit of empathy would go a long way towards helping. Of all the emotions and stages and events I’ve been through, I find fear the most isolating element of my journey.

    It helps to read your words. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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