Hello – I’m Emma. I’m 28 and I live in Lancashire. I’m writing this the week before what will be 4 years since our first baby died. Her name is Grace. It was Grace then and it’s still Grace now. (Pictured above earlier on in my pregnancy, I didn’t take many photos, I wish I knew I had to)
1,460 days since I became a mother to a baby who didn’t live. It’s not how I planned my experience of motherhood to be, but this is what it is and I can’t pretend otherwise. Although every bone in my body aches for it to be different, my baby did die. But she also lived.
I was 24 and recently married when I found out I was pregnant. It had all lined up pretty perfectly. I went forward with blind faith in the universe that this was my time. My pregnancy was straightforward, the usual. But still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this baby wouldn’t be staying. It wasn’t an anxiety fuelled feeling, more of a dull acceptance.
The weeks went by and that feeling slowly faded away. Until it returned. This time somewhere laced between the words of a doctor explaining that our baby was not going to be well enough to live once she left the safety of me. Many scans and tests in the coming days revealed she had catastrophic heart defects. In short, once detached from my blood supply she simply wouldn’t be able to pump her own blood around her body. Everything else about her was so perfect. Our options were to induce labour early and let her pass away or to proceed to the end of the pregnancy and allow palliative care to be provided.
There was absolutely nothing that could have been done, medically or otherwise, that would have saved her. I couldn’t wish her well, but oh I tried. I begged with everything in me that Grace would live. But it wasn’t ever going to be enough. I couldn’t save my daughter’s life.
We made the excruciating decision to not put her through any pain. We “chose” to end our pregnancy. It wasn’t a choice though. It was a forced hand. I sat in a room, pregnant and feeling a baby move with one hand, whilst signing a legal document to consent to her death with the other. That will haunt me forever. I signed a fake signature so that it wouldn’t have to be ME that signed her life away. I wanted everyone to know I didn’t want this.
I had Grace on a scorching hot day in July 2016, following 11 hours of induced labour. I became unwell and had to stay in hospital with suspected sepsis. Grace stayed with us in a cold cot. This sounds horrific to anyone who hasn’t had the misfortune of needing one, but please don’t pass judgement on something you haven’t experienced. After 2 days a midwife wheeled her away from us for the final time; I couldn’t walk away from her so it had to be this way. As the midwife took her away I fell to the floor. So did my husband. My soul left my body that day and it’s not returned since. We went in with a baby, and we walked out with a memory box. I bled and I cried, in equal measure, as my legs were moved beneath me towards the exit – flanked by a midwife on one side and my husband on the other. Although I was walking forwards, I was being pulled backwards, back to my baby who I would never see again. And we never did see her again.
I began to write about Grace, and our lives since, shortly after. I found a group of women online who too had lost babies and they held me up in ways nobody close to me could. My parents, best friend and sister in law were amazing. They took the many bad days and cut up sides of me and loved me through it. The online baby loss community has (sadly) grown massively since then. We lost two more babies the following year through suitably traumatic miscarriages and I have had to claw my way back from hell to get to where I am today.
It’s now 2020 and we have a beautiful 17-month-old little girl called Felicity. It took 87 weeks of pregnancy to bring home a living baby. But Grace will always be our firstborn. We need to talk about this. And about our babies. If you are in the thick of baby loss, please know you are never alone. We are your team; find your allies and we will hold you up if you need us. Everything you are feeling now is normal and a trauma/grief reaction. You will make it through. You will. Just hold on as best you can and I sincerely hope you get there.