11 October 2017

Baby Loss Awareness Week - Heather and Julie's story

Baby Loss Awareness Week - Heather and Julie's story

Julie and I started the IVF process soon after we got married in 2014. As a same sex couple we knew it was going to be a long and expensive journey to get pregnant but we were lucky enough to have this option available to us.

After lots of tests, scans and waiting, we finally got a sperm donor in May 2015, which was both incredibly exciting and nerve wracking.  After deciding he was right for us from a brief description of his features and occupation, there was more waiting before we were able to start the daily injections and tablets to simulate my ovaries and prepare my body for egg collection. We were lucky enough to get 10 eggs, nine of which were fertilised. The best embryo was implanted in early August.

After two weeks of nervous waiting, we were ready to do a pregnancy test. It was positive and we were over the moon, we couldn't believe that our first attempt had worked. The next eight months of pregnancy were perfect, I had no morning sickness and our little girl, Alex, was growing nicely. A 4D scan gave us a glimpse of what she might look like. We saw her move, wave and open her eyes.

On April 13th 2016, after going to bed with a little one kicking away, we woke up to stillness. Each morning Julie would put her hands on my stomach and Alex would wriggle around but this morning she didn't.  We thought it was a little odd so I had a bath which would normally get her moving, and I thought it had worked as I felt her bottom move under my ribs.  Julie went to work and I rested, but I could tell things still weren't right.

After phoning the midwives and being advised to go to Hospital, we had a 25 minute scan with two midwives, two scanners and a doctor who told us "I'm sorry there's no heart beat", words which are haunting to this day. The rest is a bit of a blur but were told to go back the following evening to be induced. It finally hit me when I was getting ready for bed that night and I looked down and saw my bump, Alex was still in there but our baby was dead.

We went to the labour ward on Thursday 14th April. We were taken to a room with no baby related material but still within ear shot of other women giving birth. One solace was that our midwife from the night before had swapped her rota so that she could be with us and deliver Alex. It meant so much to us that we didn't have to explain anything and it made all the difference such a in a horrible situation.

I was induced shortly after arriving and our beautiful daughter Alexandra Jayne Ivy was born at 5.40 and 39weeks weighing 7.lb2. This was the happiest and most heart breaking moment of our lives. Alex was taken and dressed the outfit we had chosen for her to go home in and we spent about 11 hours in the room with her. We weren't able to cuddle properly as a family but we made memories and took lots of photographs of her.

A week or so after we had Alex, a number of friends and family let us know that there was a still birth unit, the Serenity Suite, opening at QMC. Although we hadn't been able to use such a facility, we were so pleased that this service was now being offered. This was the first time that we had heard of Forever Stars, a charity that we became trustees of at the start of this year.

At Alex's funeral, we asked for donations and gave half to Forever Stars and half to the still birth and neonatal death charity, Sands. Since then we have raised £1200 for Sands and have worked with a local pub to put on a number of events for Forever Stars. I also ran the Robin Hood half marathon this September for Forever Stars, just 5 months after having our second little girl.

Forever Stars have recently launched their #TalkAboutThem campaign, helping remove the taboo of talking about still birth and baby loss. Throughout October, they are encouraging groups across the city to hold Talk About Them Tea Parties to raise awareness of this issue.

After we had Alex, we began talking to others about our experience and found a number of people had lost children, but felt as though they couldn't talk about it, fearing the reaction from others. The Talk About Them Tea Parties will work towards removing this stigma, and the money raised with go towards a local counsellor to support siblings following baby loss in the family.

If you would like to learn more about Forever Stars fundraising or hold your own Talk About Them Tea Party  visit their website  www.foreverstars.org, or find us find them on  Facebook Twitter or  Instagram.

(Julie and Heather pictured here with daughter Olivia)

NHS Nottingham University Hospitals
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