pregnancy

"In the 36th week of my pregnancy, my baby moved violently. Then nothing."

This article contains text and images of stillbirth that could be triggering for some readers.

In June 2015, I lost my son in the 36th week of my pregnancy. It had been a rough pregnancy from the beginning, I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness) and spent the beginning of the pregnancy in and out of ED for dehydration and excessive vomiting. The nausea and the vomiting hung around, I never got the pregnancy glow or got to feel all the excitement I thought I would have as a first-time mum.

“It will all be worth it at the end,” my co-workers used to say as I would sit outside my classroom trying not to vomit. I worked at a school where about six of my co-workers were pregnant, not sick and seemed to sail through while I wished I could curl up into a ball and die half the time. While they laughed and glowed and joked about their babies, I couldn’t shake the feeling that things just weren’t right.

“You don’t seem to be that big,” my mum would say as the pregnancy progressed.

“Are you sure he’s growing alright?” I would ask the midwives at my check-ups. “Is he growing ok?”

They would pull out their measuring tapes and take the fundus measurement.

“Yes, he’s fine.”

I expressed concerns about how sick I had been and wondered if it had affected the baby and with a wave of the hand I was dismissed.

“Are you feeling baby movements?” they would ask.

“Usually only at night,” I would reply.

The pregnancy continued. I baked blue gender reveal cupcakes. I went to my appointments. I went to friends’ baby showers, I celebrated the arrival of little ones. Soon it was my turn and my friends threw me a baby shower on a Saturday with baby cupcakes and blue lollies and decorations. I was sent home with bags of new baby gifts and cards saying “Congratulations!” and “Welcome new baby boy!”

One of my friends had bought me a car window sticker saying, “Little Prince of Board”. Maybe things really were going to work out fine, maybe this would all be worth it, and I would have this perfect little baby and a magical time. Our dining room table was full of gifts, the baby’s room freshly painted and set up with the change table and cot. Boy nappies stacked on top of the chest of drawers, a new sheepskin for the baby to lie on.

The on the Monday night a few days later, I felt him move around violently, like he had completely turned himself around.

“Wow, that was huge!” I said to my husband. And then, there was nothing. It was late and went to bed. Pete put his hand on my stomach to feel him move which was a nightly ritual. Nothing.

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Morning came and I got up, had something to eat. Tried to feel the baby move. Nothing. I went to my appointment at the hospital. “Something isn’t right,” I said again.

“Jump up on the table and we will listen to the heartbeat.”

Listen: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo speak to Bec Sparrow, about what we could possibly say to a mother who’s lost a child. Post continues after audio. 

The midwife had the doppler on my stomach. She kept moving it back and forth. She couldn’t locate a heartbeat. She called in a more senior midwife who asked about the baby’s movements.

“Any reason why you didn’t come in first thing this morning when you hadn’t felt the baby?” she asked.

“He didn’t move much in the morning,” I replied faintly. I was walked up to the maternal foetal monitoring unit.

“Don’t panic,” the midwife said. I walked past the sound of baby heartbeats and seated pregnant women. I was led into a quiet little room. A young red headed lady doctor came in to do the ultrasound. She looked at the screen and kept staring.

“I am sorry to have to tell you this, but there is no heartbeat.” A beat of silence.

“What do you mean? What are you talking about?” Another sickening silence in the room while the sound of the heart beats on the outside of the door kept pounding. Their faces told me all I needed to know.

“No, no, no, no, no!” I half screamed hysterically, half cried.

The nurses kept calling my husband a he wasn’t picking up his phone. They called my mum in the end who came into the room and asked what was wrong.

“He’s dead,” I cried.

stillborn baby
Tanya with her husband in the hospital. Image: Supplied.
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“How cruel to get to 36 weeks and to lose him at the end,” she said.

My husband arrived. The nurses told him nothing over the phone. “He’s dead,’ I told him. “Hennessy is dead.” He buried his head in his hands and sobbed on the bed.

We were sent down to ultrasound to further confirm the diagnosis. The radiographer said, “This is really shit for you and I am really sorry.” She turned to the screen “Would you like me to switch the screen off or keep it on?” It didn’t matter now. There was no movement to see, no heartbeat to hear.

We were sent back upstairs.

“I have to go through labour now, don’t I?” The doctor and nurse looked at each other. “Yes, that’s right. I suggest you go home, get some sleep and come back in tomorrow morning.”

I was given a script for Temazepam to help me sleep. As I waited for the prescription, the pharmacist took it upon herself to tell me all about sleep hygiene and give me a pamphlet. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I had just found out my baby was dead, and I would have to give birth to him tomorrow. I took the pamphlet and the pills and left.

We opened the door to our house and walked inside. The baby shower gift bags were still on the table.

You can download Mamamia's e-book Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

Join the community of women, men and families who have lost a child in our private Facebook group.

If this article has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

For more, read:

"He would be four months old." When Mother's Day comes with a unique kind of grief.

"My first baby boy was stillborn. Then my third passed away five hours after she was born."

Tags: infant-loss , pregnancy , stillborn
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