When we heard those fatal words “I’m sorry but your baby has died” our worlds absolutely shattered…
The first thing I remember doing was turning to Steven and saying I was sorry over and over again. It must have been my fault our baby had died, she was inside my tummy , I was her mummy, the only job I had in the entire world was to protect her keep her safe and I had failed. And failed hard!! How could I have made it to 1 week past her due date only to let her down right at the last hurdle. I was in labour, this was supposed to be it.. the day the last 10months had been leading up to.
We had taken all the antenatal classes with the other parents, I had never missed a scan or midwife appointment. I had taken myself to Triage when I thought something wasn’t quite right and had been checked and everytime I had been assured not to worry she was perfectly healthy. We had paid for private scans just to see her and check on her progress. We both couldn’t understand why this was happening. I had just been in the hospital the night before checking on her reduced movements and they had noticed her heartbeat being erratic. We both stayed in the hospital for a few hours while I had been strapped to the trace while numerous midwives came in and changed my position and checked her progress. I never worried as I had been to triage many times and always had been reassured things were fine. When the doctor came in after a few hours he dismissed the heart trace as hiccups and as Francesca had started moving while I was in he had no concerns over the reduced movements. But that was the thing , after the midwife check our baby at the beginning of our visit to try and wake her up a bit, she had started moving frantically, more than I’ve ever felt her do before and I remember saying this to all the midwives who came in the room and the doctor but they never seen this as a concern. So when the doctor discharged me with the “hiccups” diagnosis , I left… I just bloody left the hospital! A few hours later our perfectly healthy baby was gone forever and I was in labour ready to deliver a piece of our shattered hearts into the world.
I don’t think I can every truly allow forgiveness to myself. Why did I trust those professionals, why didn’t I question more, say something more, anything at all , what happened to my mothers instinct? Did I not get that gene when it was being handed out??, why did I allow them to just take a piece of papers word for it that our baby was healthy.. she wasn’t.. she was in distress and for all I know was pleading for someone to help her .. and I didn’t..
I always remember hearing about a “mothers guilt” and now I know first hand how real that is. Its all consuming and no matter what our amazing partners, friends, families, doctors, nurses, consultants (and all the trillions of other healthcare professionals we’ve met with since losing Francesca) tell you that it wasn’t your fault, you did everything right etc it doesn’t matter. Your mind will constantly play on your soul and hold you accountable for everything bad that happened. I know some other mummy’s in my position may be able to understand this and maybe with time the heartache from the extreme guilt you carry will subside.
I pray one day I am able to allow myself some degree of happiness as trying to live your life after losing your baby is like a battle ground. Like the great Carrie Bradshaw quoted “you need to be careful where you tread as you can be blown to pieces”. By that I mean having to avoid anywhere that can blow what’s left of your heart to pieces such as:
Doctors surgery (when they schedule your 6 week check at the end of the baby clinic, thanks for that one docs!)
Any shopping centres you ever bought anything from while you were happily pregnant and living your best life. More than likely within the dreaded shopping centre you will also be hit with a mass of mums and dads with their newborn babies ramming their prams up your ankles just incase you didn’t already notice they were there.
Supermarkets where your are bombarded with frantic mums joking about “how they’d love to get a minute to themselves and hand them back sometimes”(these jokes are lost on bereaved mummys who would give their lives just to have another second with their baby before the ascended to heaven)
Coffee shops. You used to love chatting to your friends over a skinny latte? Well those days are gone my friend. The first time Steven and I braved Costa we were there for a total of 25 minutes and we counted (that’s what you do now) 9 newborn babies around us. Now I no longer frequent Costa or anywhere else that could give me my caffeine hit incase of the embarrassing episode of crying into my coffee.
Walks in the park? Gone forever! Parks have been wholly reserved for the proud mummy club that I am no longer a part of. In my mind it’s a reminder that those mummys could bring their beautiful babys safely into the world but I couldn’t. The word FAILURE screams out my name in parks. So it looks like Dakota will be pounding the streets on his walks forever more as we don’t go into parks now.
These may seem a little absurd to some but honestly this is just a snippet of a day in the bereaved mummy’s life. I don’t for one minute blame any of the mums mentioned above whether it be in the park or supermarket as they are living their best lives and should be proudly showing off their beautiful little miracles everywhere and anywhere, this is just a personal battle I will continue to live with for the rest of my life. Maybe this is why I have recently found a new love for the gym, no babies allowed there. So maybe the good part of having to avoid these places is that if I want to get out the house for a while the only safe place to take my tubby ass is to the gym. I can see that size 12 in sight one day….
As Always , For Francesca Alexis Johnston, born 8/2/18. Forever loved and forever missed xxx