I find writing a really cathartic process. I always have. I’ve been through some awful things and writing is something I’d turn to feel calmer. However, after experiencing the most awful and painful experience of losing my baby girl I never ever for one moment thought I would or could write about it.
My baby girl Darcey died in my womb at 37 weeks old. I’m still having flash backs about that very moment the midwife told us there was no heartbeat. I remember it so clearly. She didn’t even look at me but when those words left her lips I screamed. I threw the wires from my body, grabbed my husband and screamed and screamed. Not only had my baby died but I lost a part of myself in that moment.
I collapsed. I gripped my husband so tightly watching him for the first time in our 14-year relationship break down and cry. I apologised and I apologised. I was crying so much I could barely breath. I thought I might die my heart was in so much pain. I couldn’t believe how much emotional pain I was in. All I could think about was our 6 year old son. All I could say was “What about Harry? What are we going to tell Harry? He thinks he’s having a baby sister!”
I remember midwives telling us how sorry they were again and again and being rubbed on the back over and over but it’s all a blur really.
We were taken to a room for people whose babies had died. It was called the Primrose room. It’s the most poorly placed room you can imagine as you have to walk through the entire labour ward to get there. Hearing newborn babies cry and women in labour whilst we were being led down the corridors by a blur of a midwife. I honestly felt like it was a bad dream I was floating through and I would wake up in my own bed soon.
Foolishly, it kept crossing my mind that maybe this was a big, awful mistake. They’d just missed her. She was just asleep. She was in a funny position so they couldn’t reach her. They’d made mistakes before maybe it was one of those moments.
But of course, I was wrong.
The room had a bed and a sofa, and a TV and we were told this was our room. As long as we needed it for, it was ours. I felt like screaming “I don’t fucking want it!”
I remember midwives talking to me as I sat on the end of the bed gripping my husband’s hands and I had no idea what they were saying. I wanted to be sick. I wanted to run. But I was frozen to the spot thinking what had I done to deserve this. What awful thing had I done in my life to deserve this?
I kept apologising. Ben kept telling me to stop and that it wasn’t my fault. He didn’t blame me but I did. I still do. It was my responsibility to look after my baby and keep her safe for 9 months – but I failed.
Blood tests were taken, so many that I almost passed out. I am petrified of needles but this time I didn’t flinch.
I kept staring at my stomach. I then had the overwhelming feeling that I needed her out. I can’t keep walking around with my baby dead inside me.
Midwives came in to talk to me about giving birth to her – immediately I was against this. I wanted a c section. I demanded one. I refused to budge. There was no way I could give birth to my dead baby! How dare they ever suggest that I do it! I was furious. I remember arguing with them for a while. Ben and I were eventually left alone and he talked me round.
If I had a c section, they told me I would be at risk of infection (little did we know I’d catch sepsis whilst in labour!) Also, I wouldn’t be able to go home and play with my boys and I would be recovering for much longer.
I was promised that I’d be given every painkiller I wanted and they would ensure I’d feel no pain (but again I was let down, as the epidural didn’t work and was in agony!) so, after their promises, I made the decision I would give birth to her.
Next came the heartbreaking moment my husband Ben rang family to tell them what had happened.
My dad and step mum who were looking after our boys were first as we wanted to see our sons. Mainly we wanted to talk to my little boy, Harry. Teddy was 1 so he wouldn’t understand anything. But we wanted Harry to come to the hospital to see us so we could explain things to him.
He came, and even writing this now my heart hurts and I’m in tears.
I can still see his face. His little face change from smiles to shock to devastation. His eyes filled with tears and he ran away from us to the corner of the room and screamed and cried.
He couldn’t bare us to touch him at first. He completely broke down.
I remember explaining that she was poorly and there was no medicine to help her and she died. I explained that she needed to be taken out of my tummy and sent to heaven.
Ben and I also made the decision to let Harry name her. He had chosen a name for her the moment he found out she was a girl at 20 weeks. So Darcey was the only choice. This actually gave Harry a little bit of comfort. You could see a little light return to his face when we told him that’s what she was going to be called.
We cuddled, all of us for a little while. Ben then arranged childcare and left to take the boys home with my dad.
I was left on my own for a short while and my phone started beeping with notifications on social media and all the other things I no longer cared about. I deleted all the social media apps off my phone immediately and kept off of them for 6 weeks. It was just too painful to think of all the pregnancy posts and newborn baby pictures that I was going to see. I couldn’t risk seeing any of that.
When Ben returned, we made the decision that we would go home and spend the night with the boys and return the next day to start the process of being induced. We couldn’t leave Harry on his own after breaking that awful heartbreaking news to him.
I remember asking Ben to get everything baby related out of the car and the bedroom before I came home. I knew I would never be able to cope with seeing the beautiful crib knowing she will never be sleeping in there.
I don’t really remember anything else until the next day at the front doors of the labour ward. Pressing the buzzer and asking to come in and go to the Primrose room.
Things started quite quickly, I was strapped to monitors, given medication, had cannula fitted and had more blood tests.
If I had to describe how I felt in those moments it would be numb. There were moments where Ben and I broke down in each other’s arms but mostly I felt like it wasn’t even happening to me. I felt like none of it was real.
Sadly, and stupidly there was a tiny part of me that thought she would still be born alive. That thought that the Drs had made a mistake and it was going to be a miracle she was still alive. Maybe that’s what got me through 2 days leading up to my 19 hours of labour!
It was hell. The inducing process wasn’t working. The epidural wasn’t working I was in agony for hours.
Ben was incredible and called family to let them know what had and was happening. I still don’t know how he found the strength to do that, I could barely string two words together to talk to him let alone explain the most painful thing in the world to others. He was and is my rock!
Darcey was eventually born on the 24th September at 6.29pm weighing a tiny 5lbs 3oz. I was adamant I couldn’t see her when she was born. I needed her to be taken to another room and cleaned and dressed and then see her at a later time when I was ready. I was so scared they would forget this so I just kept repeating to Ben and the midwives that “I can’t see her! I can’t see her!” I don’t know what I was scared of exactly but I felt petrified and so full of anxiety.
Unfortunately, I caught Sepsis during delivery and nearly died. This was probably the scariest thing to happen to me and I felt like, in that moment I was going to die with Darcey.
Luckily, I got very quick treatment, which I don’t remember but Ben was able to tell me about.
I don’t know how long it was until I felt well enough to see Darcey but I will never ever forget those moments as long as I live.
We were explained that we could spend as much or as little time with her that we wanted but we were also told she would be very very cold because of where they had to keep her but at first, I didn’t want to touch her. I couldn’t bring myself to even think about touching her.
The midwife left and Ben and I gripped each other so tightly. My heart was pounding and I remember feeling like I was going to be sick. I heard the door handle and then the midwife wheeling in the cot. I remember immediately looking the other way. Sobbing my heart out, but refusing to look. Ben was crying and saying my name. I then turned and saw my baby girl for the first time through the plastic side of the cot. She was nothing like I expected. We hadn’t been told that she would look completely different to how you would expect a newborn to look. This made my heart hurt and made me sob again.
I remember Ben saying that she looked like Teddy, and she really did. We both looked at her crying saying how tiny she was, how beautiful and pretty she was. And she really was. She was so beautiful. We took some pictures and touched her tiny but long fingers. Touching her cheek is something I’ll never forget. I have never felt anything so cold in my life. I will forever remember that coldness.
We spent time taking in every little piece of her. Her blonde hair like her brothers. Her little button nose like Teddy. Her long fingers like Harry. We then made the decision to have her taken back to the cold room whilst we spoke to Harry. He wanted to see her. He desperately wanted to see his sister. We were very honest with him about what she would look like and how he’s likely to feel.
Ben left to collect him and in that time on my own I made the decision that I did want to hold her. I wanted to hold and cuddle my little girl. When Harry arrived at the hospital, we prepped him again and checked he was sure, he was.
His face when he saw her was one of shock, and he broke down crying again.
After a few minutes he felt calmer and felt like he could look at her. Ben picked her up and passed her to me. She was wrapped in a pink blanket we had chosen for her and dressed in a ‘Little Sister’ baby grow Harry had chosen, but she was still so incredibly cold. That awful coldness that I have just never ever felt. She was so light. But still so beautiful. Harry sat next to me and touched her and cuddled her. Ben felt ready to hold her and had his time with his little princess.
We let Harry have a few minutes to talk to Darcey and say anything he felts like he might want to say.
I still remember what he said to his sister. I won’t repeat it here but it was so beautiful and complete broke my heart.
After a few more photos Harry wanted to go so we got the midwife to come and take Darcey and Harry went home.
When Ben returned, I was encouraged to sleep. I was exhausted beyond belief but sleep just wouldn’t come. I had to take medication and eventually slept.
Ben and I then spent the next morning having to go through the awful process of deciding on a post mortem. It wasn’t a yes or no question. There were lots of different procedures and we had to decide which one(s) were what we wanted. My brain couldn’t focus I felt like I wanted to tell them to shut up and go away but I knew we had to do it. Ben was incredible and so strong and somehow, we got through it. It’s an absolutely horrendous experience and something you never expect to happen. You never expect your baby to die before you.
It’s so cruel that I carried her for almost the full 9 months to have her taken away.
We were given a box of memories, hand and foot prints, pictures and other bits which is a comfort now.
The midwife discharged us after 5 days and I’ll never forget the walk back to the carpark, walking past people with congratulation balloons and gifts clenching my jaw so hard so that I didn’t cry. It still hurts my heart when I think back of everyone else leaving hospital with their babies in car seats and us leaving with a box. It’s just so unfair.
Why us? What did we do to deserve this? Am I that much of an awful person that I did deserve it? I still believe that I did something wrong. And until we get the post mortem results I don’t think I’ll have those feelings put to rest.
Its 10 weeks from when we found out and I’ll admit I’m still struggling. We all are. Some days are better than others but I’m still desperately sad. I never believed that saying of ‘my arms ache’ for the baby that should be there, but now I get it.
Every time I see a newborn baby or see someone holding a car seat I go into a panic. My heart starts pounding out of my chest, I can’t breathe properly I’m scared to look. If I do look, I feel angry or incredibly sad. Why do they get to have their baby but I don’t?
As time goes on, I keep expecting to feel better and I may pretend that I do but really every day is a struggle.
I dread the day that someone asks how many children I have. Do I say 3 and then have to explain and deal with shock on their faces and the awkwardness or do I just say 2? Or is that an insult to Darcey? I guess it’s an internal argument that’ll happen for a while.
I’m sharing my story because I want to stop the stigma. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great support but there are still those people who wouldn’t approach me or even look at me and it makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong.
People are still avoiding the subject of Darcey and my stillbirth. Choosing to avoid me altogether or chat about the weather. I understand, I’m not angry I just think it’s a shame.
I really want to urge people if they know someone that this has happened to then don’t be afraid of talking to them and please do mention their baby. You won’t make us sad. We think about our babies every day, it’ll just show us that you’re thinking of them too. Which is a very special thing.
Please contact the fantastic charity SANDS for further help or information.