A message from the author, Sara Fitzsimmons MBE, RM:
“I wrote these words a few years ago when I was still practicing at the hospital as a midwife, it was a few days after I had spent quite a bit of time with a couple and their family in triage, their baby was at full term. I needed time to reflect, time to capture the many times I had been with parents when these devastating, life changing words were said. This was one part of my job that would never get easier, it was also the one time that as a midwife I needed to be so in control of my own feelings and emotions as the parents needed the best of what I could give. Although I wrote these words I still can’t read them back without tears in my eyes and a massive sore lump in my throat, they always take me right back to those moments and I think of those many families.”
“I am so sorry”
The words that no midwife wants to say and words you never dreamed you would hear.
You came into my world, apologising for taking up my time, I must be busy you said. I reassure you that I am here for you and am your midwife today, I let you know my name and say I will look after you.
Things haven’t been quite right, you tell me, but yes you felt your baby moving, but you question when the last time was.
I palpate your gentle skin, soft, but different.
I search your abdomen for a beautiful sound, and I search some more, please let me find that sound, please don’t let me have to do this to you. I am so sorry.
We walk to the scan room, I stay by your side, your partner does too. You both make small talk, I hear the worry in your voice.
The sonographer travels the transducer over your abdomen, you both watch, waiting for some news, any news, is everything ok, you ask. We hesitate some more, not because we can’t see what we are looking at, we hesitate because we know what we are about to do, we know that as soon as we speak, we will change everything for you, we are trying to stay strong for you. We know that when we speak we are going to hurt you so much, to change your life forever, shatter your hopes and dreams. We hesitate to give you a moment more. I am so sorry.
I stand by your side and tell you words, words, I don’t want to say them, but when I do I have to say them clear, clear so that you don’t doubt what I am saying, you need me to tell you the truth, be honest with you, so I don’t give you any doubt. I am sorry for what I am about to say.
I take a deep breath, staying strong for you…….. I am so sorry, there is no heartbeat, your baby has died.
Please forgive me for saying those words. I watch your reaction, I give you time to comprehend what I have told you, I am here for you, my time is yours, I feel pain with you. You scream, I will never forget that scream, we must be wrong, you felt your baby moving. I am here for you, to hold your hand, to hold you if you need me to, I am here to catch you. I am so sorry.
You sit in disbelief, your partners sobs, I give you time to say something, all the time that you need, you need time to understand what I have said, though how can you understand this.
We move to another room, I bring you some water, a cup of tea, some tissues to catch your tears, is there anyone you need to phone.
I have to introduce you to more people, a doctor, they read your notes for any information, they will have to tell you what is going to happen next, they take their time with you. You sit and stare, you don’t really hear the words, why would you want to. We discuss the delivery of your baby, ‘can’t you just take my baby out’ you ask.
We think of you, we guide you through choices, no, decisions you will have to make, we will be there with you. I am so sorry.
I tell you that you are going to meet your baby, spend the most precious time together, that we will all be there for you, support you, guide you, cry with you. Please trust me.
It’s time for you to go home, you need time you said, I understand. I give you a piece of paper with a date and time, for you to return, to meet your baby. I give you a number in case you have any question, I know you have so many, so many you never thought you would have to ask.
You thank me…..thank me, for looking after you, I said I would. I hug you both, I am so very sorry.
I think of you often, how you are, where you are, how you are both doing. I know that your life changed forever that day, mine did too, I was there for you and for that I am not sorry.
Written by Sara Fitzsimmons MBE, RM, Midwife, SiMBA
Sara Fitzsimmons is the CEO of the charity SiMBA and the winner of the No1 Magazine Amazing Contribution 2018, Daily Record Caring Hero 2016, Charity Champions Inspiration Award 2015, Scottish Health Awards 2006 Women and Children’s Services, Finalist NHS Lothian Celebrating Success Awards 2016.
To find out more about the work of SiMBA including their Memory Boxes, Family Rooms, Memorial Trees of Tranquillity, Support Groups and on-line support please visit our website: www.simbacharity.org.uk .
Whether you’re a thrill seeker, looking for a great afternoon out or a real challenge please visit their events section: http://www.simbacharity.org.uk/events/.
Every penny that you raise will help them to continue to fund their vital services!
Scottish Registered Charity Number SC038243
Facebook: SiMBA, Simpsons Memory Box Appeal