Aimee and Marc

‘I feel because she doesn’t have a death certificate she never existed’

Aimee’s full interview

Click on the orange timecode reference (e.g. 0.00) to skip to that part of the interview.

0.00 My name’s Aimee; I’m Petal Rose’s mum. Petal was born on the 28th February 2015 at 23 plus six days.

0.12 Tell me how you and Marc met.

0.16 We met at a local hospital. I’m a nurse, Marc’s a doctor and we met in the A&E department… and we started our family three years later. We have a little boy called Buddy who is four. A year after Buddy was born we had a little boy called Mattie – so he’s three. Then we had our Petal Rose who we lost in 2015 and this year… sorry, last year we had our rainbow baby, Daisy Petal who was born in May.

0.59 Tell me what your attitude to starting a family was.

1.04 I always knew I wanted to be a mum. I wanted to get my career first, and travel. And then I knew I wanted to start a family late 20s early 30s. And I was thrilled when I was pregnant with Buddy in 2012 and I just love… I love being a mum to all my children. Yeah, it was… it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And then since then my career’s took a back seat but… I’m just enjoying… enjoying being a mum to my boys and now my little girl.

1.49 Tell me about your pregnancy with Petal.

1.53 So, I found out I was pregnant in 2014. And I remember thinking the first three months I was really, really sick. In hindsight now, I was… I was poorly when I was pregnant with Petal and just put it down to… pregnancy hormones. I had experienced sickness with the boys when I was pregnant, but I was really tired… and possibly in the back of my mind, I thought I didn’t feel this way when I was carrying the boys; so at the back of my mind I thought maybe I’m having a girl and this is why I’m feeling so different?

2.37 I went for my 12 week scan and everything was fine. Still wasn’t feeling great, and went for my 20 week scan. Found out we was having a girl, and then just as the scan was finishing the sonographer thought that we might have our dates mix… wrong because the baby was only showing 18 weeks gestation, instead of 20 weeks. But me and Marc, we didn’t seem to be… we wasn’t worried, thinking, oh, you know, maybe… maybe the dates are a little bit mixed up? But then I did start to feel… to become anxious when… there was a consultant that came into the ultrasound room and they did an in depth ultrasound of the baby. But they actually said that everything looks fine, the baby is showing to be smaller than we’d expect at 20 weeks… And I felt okay… but then, she started mentioning… tests that we could have; maybe we should have amniocentesis to see whether there was anything wrong with the baby and I… and then from that moment on, I thought, oh, I don’t want to lose my baby. Something’s wrong. Why are they saying this to us? And naively I thought it was, like, professional courtesy because we’re both in that profession I thought, oh maybe they’re just giving us a bit of added information… just to keep us in the picture because we did have a little bit of knowledge. We acted against an amniocentesis but we paid privately to have a harmony blood test to see… just to… not to harm the foetus, just to have the blood test see whether there was anything wrong. So I had that done at 22 weeks, privately. And I was looking at the scan picture and everything seemed fine. And the blood test come back… it was an anxious two weeks waiting for the test. The blood test did come back that everything was fine with the baby and that there was no notable… notable problems and we were referred to a placenta clinic at… where they were just going to keep an eye on my placenta to make sure the baby was growing… and that’s when my life changed, going for that scan. And that’s when they scanned me and there was no heartbeat.

5.25 Can you tell me what happened next? How did they tell you?

5.32 It was… so a consultant did the scan and he, straight away, I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat. And I can’t really remember… I remember… a sound coming out of me that… it was like an animal sound and I just couldn’t… I couldn’t believe it and there was quite a few… It had to be confirmed by another doctor who came in. And then the… and then I spoke to the bereavement midwives. And then I had to be given some sort of medication. And I just remembered, looking at Marc saying, our baby’s died. Our… our baby’s died… And then we went home, and I just wanted to be with my boys, and we had to wait 48 hours before we went in for me to be induced to deliver, but I realised because I was obviously on the 20 weeks that we hadn’t bought anything. Not superstitiously, but I was so busy with two little boys that I didn’t… I wasn’t thinking of the baby at that point because I’d had two normal pregnancies – and I knew you didn’t need anything, you know, for… a further 20 weeks. So I knew – we went for the scan on a Wednesday – and on the Thursday I had to go shopping to get things for Petal. And it was so sad being in… being in shops looking for baby girl’s blankets and things knowing I wouldn’t… that’d be what… she’s going… that’s what she’s gonna wear when we… deliver her and we can’t take her home.

7.31 Do you remember anything else about those few days at home?

7.35 No. I didn’t want to see anybody. And I remember going to bed and waking up in the night thinking is this a nightmare? And just sobbing, just… And trying to obviously put on a… a brave face for my two little boys – and they was only two and three at the time – they were babies themselves and… and they wanted to know why mummy was sad and… it was just, a hazy nightmare. And then obviously people knew I was pregnant, I’d got past the 12 week scan when everyone thinks everything’s gonna be fine and even at the 20 week scan – because everyone knew I was pregnant. And then it was just how am I gonna… how do I explain this to people? It was really difficult, but family and friends were brilliant, but I just knew that I wanted to be on my own. Just to be on my own with my boys and Marc. Yeah, that’s them… them two days before I went in.

8.47 Do you remember your feelings at that time?

8.52 Empty. Shock. I just couldn’t believe that I didn’t know, that I didn’t… I couldn’t protect my baby; I didn’t realise things were as bad as what they were. Guilt. I felt guilty for not looking after her and for not knowing. I didn’t feel angry then – I think that came later on – but at that time I just felt guilty and shocked and how am I gonna…? How am I going to go into hospital and deliver a baby that’s died? I don’t want to see that…I… I… how am I gonna do it? And I wanted to… I wanted as much medication so I wouldn’t have to… I wouldn’t have to think about it. And I suppose I just went into autopilot and just did what I needed to do.

9.58 Do you remember what you were told about what would happen next?

10.01 Yeah. When… so I had the scan on a Wednesday – when we discovered that she’d died – and we were told to come back on the following Friday, which was 48 hours later. And basically, I was going to be induced and it would take time – it wasn’t going to happen quickly – and, you know you… so we were in hospital like 24 hours. We were taken to a bereavement suite, where we… it was really comfortable; it was just a big double bed, a television, a little kitchen, and then I was given the medication and basically we just walked around the hospital waiting for it to kick in. And then when I started getting labour pains, we went into the delivery suite because I knew that I wanted a PCA – the patient controlled analgesia – because I want… for pain. And I wasn’t in physical pain, but I just I… mentally I could not do… I couldn’t give birth without medication. I just couldn’t do it. So that’s what happened. Labour pains started round about seven / eight o’clock in the evening, and then I delivered her at two o’clock in the morning.

11.31 And did you meet her?

11.33 One of my biggest regrets, I literally delivered her and it was just so silent in the room and… I just turned over… I was… I was really sick – because of the medication – and I was being sick and I just turned, rolled over like turned my back away. And Marc bathed her and dressed her and held her… ‘cause I just couldn’t… I couldn’t do it. But, yeah, we were offered everything. She was too small to have handprints and footprints, but Marc did take some pictures. But I… I just couldn’t bring myself to… to hold her.

12.30 Did you… were you… were you offered a postmortem or…?

12.37 We were offered a postmortem. We took it – because I’d had two healthy pregnancies in the past and I… I wanted to have another baby and I was… I wanted to know why this happened to our baby after having two healthy little boys, like what went wrong? And we felt that a postmortem would help us, our like medical management for future pregnancies.

13.14 Can you tell me about the care of the staff during the labour and talking to you about the postmortem and the things that were to happen?

13.24 Yeah, the staff at the hospital were amazing, absolutely amazing. There were just one – it wasn’t an incident, you know – these things happen everyday and when we went into the hospital we… we were taken… away from the delivery suite – so there was two bereavement suites – and one of the… So we were going to one room and the other room was occupied and as I walked into our room there was a father coming out of another room with a coffin… and I just fell apart, I was just, I can’t… and I remember saying, I can’t do this; I just can’t do this. And the staff were just amazing with me. They were just, so… thoughtful and… they listened… they listened to me and half the time I was just crying but they couldn’t do enough for us – for both of us, for Marc as well. And they really… you know, they explained what was going to happen; they explained what Petal was going to look like, so if we did want to hold her we wouldn’t… we were prepared and, you know… they explained that she can stay with us for a while – which she did in a little Moses basket. And we were offered like a blessing – which she had. Yeah, the staff were… amazing. We couldn’t have… we couldn’t… it made a really traumatic situation… they made it as easy for us as it could possibly be.

15.14 Can you tell me a little bit more about that time that you had with Petal?

15.18 Erm, I… I can’t really remember. I was I was so sick after the medication, but before we had her, before I was induced the bereavement midwife come round and she gave us a selection of clothes that Petal could have… could have to wear – because obviously she was too small for babygrows and things… so that… we really took our time… because that was the only thing that we… we actually… apart from the things that we’d bought the day before – blankets and dolls and things for her – no clothes would fit her, so we had like a little selection of little knitted dresses, little gowns that… a woman had made via a charity… so, yeah, our midwife came in and it was really personal to be able to pick something that… for Petal to wear. So, when I delivered her, Marc dressed her – bathed her and then dressed her – in a little purple, pink gown with a little hat and like little booties… no sorry, it was a gown with little gloves and a hat.

16.43 How do you feel about that time now?

16.47 It was precious. It was… It’s all we have of her… that’s… I don’t… it’s like they’re the only… that’s the memory that I have of her that feels really real; that she was really here. Because the memories after that was at the funeral home and then a funeral, but… in that room – in that delivery suite, she felt really real… and really part… although she’ll always be part of us, it was lovely just to have that time me, Marc and Petal. It was a really special time for us… and I’ll cherish that because that’s all I have. And although it was really traumatic, it was really peaceful and… I knew she wasn’t suffering… she wasn’t suffering anymore. Yeah.

18.13 You mention that Petal was born at 23 weeks and 6 days, what did that actually mean in terms of death certificates and registering her death?

18.24 Well, she was… because she… it was 23 plus 6 days she was classed as a late miscarriage instead of a stillbirth. If she would have been born 22 hours later she would have been… I would have been able to register her and she would have had, had her own death certificate, but a line’s got to be drawn somewhere and Petal just didn’t – she just didn’t meet the criteria. She was a day late and even if I would have had the scan a day later she would have been stillborn. But just… because of the protocol and paperwork, she’s classed as a late miscarriage – so we don’t have… we don’t have any documentation for her: legal documentation for her.

19.19 How do you feel about that?

19.23 I wish… sometimes I feel like that… because of that, because she, she doesn’t have a death certificate, she never existed. But you know, I had to… I had to go through the labour, I had to deliver her and she did exist, but because I don’t have anything to show and she’ll always be classed as a late miscarriage – you know, to me she was stillborn. You know, I had to… you don’t pick out clothes and have funeral arrangements in my… for a miscarriage and we still had to do that and I think we were just in such a grey area. Yeah, I do feel angry that she hasn’t got anything. It’s like she didn’t exist to anyone else but us.

20.31 Can you tell me about leaving the hospital?

20.34 The following day she… we waited… she had another blessing the following day, in the morning, so we left the hospital at about 11 o’clock in the morning and it was just… we, we signed out at the reception desk and a midwife just walked past me and patted me on the shoulder and just said to both of us, just be kind to one another – to me and Marc. You’ll need one another now more than ever. And I just remember walking out, seeing other babies, seeing balloons… with baby girl and just feeling that life’s so cruel. But then also having mixed emotions because I knew I had two little boys to go home to and other people, you know, other parents were unfortunate and didn’t have that. But then feeling this guilt that I’d lost a little girl and I couldn’t save her. And just… I felt so empty and so sad. I’d never experienced sadness; I’d never experienced anything like it in my life. I was, shocked… and… shocked and sad. And empty; I felt so empty. And my heart, I remember thinking my heart’s hurting… It was terrible.

22.27 Tell me about those first few days and weeks at home.

22.34 For probably two days after I thought, right, you need to pick yourself up now. You’ve got the boys to think about. Just try and get on with things. And, I come out of hospital on the Saturday and then on the Monday, I thought, right, I’m gonna go… I’m gonna go – we had no food in – so me and my little boy did a food shop. And I just completely broke down in Tesco’s and I had to just leave – leave the supermarket. I had to just walk out and I was just sobbing in the car park. And I remember thinking how… how am I going to get over this? How…? How…? I want my old life back. And… I can’t function like this. And nobody would speak to me. No one knew what to say to me. People… I felt like people avoided me… because they just didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know how to react around people, because I didn’t want them to… it was just a really strange… obviously I’m at the… a lot of my friends are pregnant and I didn’t want to upset anybody, but I just felt I just couldn’t be around pregnant… I couldn’t be around pregnant women.

24.06 I didn’t want to know if anyone had had a baby, I just really, really wanted to be on my own and I just withdrew and just didn’t see people for a while. And I felt like the only people I wanted to speak to were my bereavement midwives who would phone just to see how, how I was and I wanted to… because at that time Petal was still in the hospital and it was really comforting to know that they were looking after her because I was a mum and couldn’t… I wasn’t with her. And the strangest things… the funeral home that we picked is five minutes from our house and I remember the day she went to the funeral home I remember lying in bed at night and my two little boys were in bed and my little girl… was in a funeral home and I just couldn’t get my head round it. The funeral home was five minutes and my baby was there. It was just… It was just awful… So… them two weeks from her dying to the… to the funeral were just a blur. Mother’s Day was in between that time and I remember feeling so grateful for my two baby boys, but so sad that I’d lost my girl. And we went to the funeral home on Mother’s Day and I just remember thinking that life is so cruel to do this to us. But that’s… but that’s… but we just had to stay strong for our… for Buddy and Mattie.

26.23 Tell me about parenting Buddy and Mattie at that time.

26.28 I felt like I just had to do it day to day and I felt like I was just functioning. I remember throwing myself into activities with them, so they… trying to overcompensate. Because I hadn’t felt… felt well in the pregnancy with Petal, I wasn’t as active with them. I would… I didn’t have the energy to play with them as much and then when I lost Petal I was just devastated, so I really… although they were so young, I really felt like they suffered because they didn’t have a mum who was a hundred per cent on the ball, so after I lost her, I made it my mission then to do as much with them as I could but… I felt like that didn’t work either because I was exhausted at the end of the day from playing with my little boys and then… I was shattered, and I couldn’t sleep at night because of Petal. It was really difficult and I really… as young as they were… they knew something was different – they did know something was different. So, it was… it was difficult, that time.

27.54 What… what did you tell them?

27.59 Because they were so young at the time, I don’t think they realized; it was only – probably in the last 12 months – that we’ve told them that they had a little sister who… who went to heaven and she’s in the sky and we… we bought a book that was called We Were Going to Have Baby But We Had an Angel Instead and they got their head round it a little bit and knew that their little sister Petal’s in heaven. And they’ve got the concept of it more in the last 12 months and they know that… they think that Petal sent Daisy to us from heaven. Yeah.

28.58 Tell me what it was like telling friends and family.

29.06 I was, just I… I didn’t even think about it I just had to… luckily, my parents did a lot, told a lot of people. I just phoned my mum and said that the baby had died, so it was really my mum that told family – and Marc’s mum. And I just told my closest friends who then told other people, because I couldn’t handle telling, going over… saying the same thing over and over again. And, I just had to just say it, my baby’s died. Can you just let people know? And they were, they were really understanding, but they was just… like I said, I felt I didn’t connect with them for a while; certain people I didn’t connect with ‘cause I was… And I felt they distanced themselves because I felt they didn’t know how to react to me or know what to say. And I wanted to talk about her, I wanted to say her name and even now, I think it’s only ever me who says her name. Especially, because we’ve gone on to have a little girl, I think a lot of the time people think, oh well, you’ve got your little girl now, you know. Let’s forget what happened because you’ve got what you wanted in the end. And it isn’t like that… So, yeah, it was difficult telling… it was difficult telling friends and family, but… I think they found it more difficult than me because I did want to talk about her and they didn’t because they thought it would upset me; but the thing that upset me is not talking about her.

31.27 How did you and Marc grieve?

31.33 I think we did it separately. And I feel like I pushed him away because obviously Marc’s the breadwinner and as much as he was grieving, and he wanted to shut himself away, he had to work, he had to go and… he had to earn the money for the family. And I – at the time – just thought, oh, he’s, he’s getting back to normal. He’s going to work now. He’s forgotten about it. He just wants us to move on. And I was awful to him… because I couldn’t, and I… if he was going out with friends or anything and I was thinking how can you just act like nothing’s happened? How can you do that? So… but I think Marc…  you know, he, he was dealing with it in his own way, but he was very private whereas I found comfort in going to support groups. But then, once you go to a few, I got scared then because… it kind of becomes the norm: people just talking about these babies that have died. And that was getting just too much for me; especially when I wanted to try again for another baby. I didn’t want to surround myself with… I didn’t want to hear all these different stories of what’s happened. But initially I needed to go to… I needed to speak to parents who’d been through what we’ve, what we’ve been through, but Marc just wasn’t… he just didn’t think it was for him – which I understand. But, yeah, I joined Sands. But then when I knew I wanted to try again I just thought like this isn’t the place to come because it wouldn’t have helped my anxiety in subsequent pregnancies.

33.42 Were you offered counselling and support?

33.45 Yep. Erm, within 10… I think about 10 days after I’d had Petal there was a lady who phoned me from Sands – the bereavement support team – and she was on the phone to me for two hours telling me about the son that she lost, like 40 years ago, and saying she was really interested in Petal. She remembered her name; she’d constantly refer to Petal – which was really nice for me to hear because no one… everyone thought if I mention… if anyone mentions Petal’s name that I’m going to be upset. So I really found comfort in speaking to the lady from Sands and then from that I did go to the monthly meetings… which was a massive help for me at the time. Marc was invited as well but he just didn’t think it was… he didn’t think it was for him.

34.46 Do you know who arranged for somebody from Sands to call you?

34.50 It was the bereavement midwives at the hospital. The day that we left after we found out that Petal had died – before I had her. We were given an information booklet with all support… support… helpline numbers and advice of what to do when a baby dies. It’s actually called What Happens When Your Baby Dies Before Birth, so, yeah. So they gave me the… I didn’t read it straight away, but obviously over the following weeks I did and I found it really helpful.

35.44 You mentioned that you had a funeral for Petal, can you tell me about that?

35.49 Yeah, we decided that we, we didn’t want it to be… we wanted it to be really personal for me and Marc and just make it about me, Marc and Petal. We didn’t think it was appropriate for the boys to be there – because they were so young – so it was just me, Marc and Petal and our local… rector from church.  He, he came to our house… he was amazing, he was brilliant, he came to our house, went through the funeral service and talked about Petal and… what we would have… what we would have wanted for her if she would have lived and it, it was really hard going through… passages… funeral… funeral passages really of stillborns. It was really hard having to look at sheets of paper with different orders of service. It was just… I couldn’t…

37.08 When he left I just started doing a little bit of my own research and I found a really nice little poem called ‘Snowdrop’ which had… it was… it’s like a poem about a flower not blooming and petals falling too soon and I thought that’s the one we’re going to have. That’s definitely the one we’re going to have for our little girl. And I found lots of comfort in picking the music because I wanted to make it really personal to me and Marc as well. So I really felt like I had… take Buddy and Mattie out of the picture – arranging the funeral, I felt like I had a purpose and I… strangely enough felt so much comfort in phoning the funeral home and saying, hello I’m Amy; I’m Petal’s mum. Because I knew I’d never say that again. And I cherish them… that… because someone acknowledged that I was her mum. So, I… I found a lot of comfort in going to the funeral home and holding her in her little casket, because I couldn’t do it at the hospital, but I got the courage to hold her and sing to her and talk to her at the funeral home. I found that really, really helpful. And they’re memories that I’ll cherish as well and they were the… the funeral home were fantastic with me and with Marc.

39.03 How did you feel about getting pregnant again and having more children?

39.12 I knew I wanted to get pregnant. I felt like something had been taken from me and I wanted… I wanted to have another baby. So, luckily for us, we lost Petal in the February, but I was pregnant again by the September. And I was, as much as I was over the moon, nothing prepares you for the anxiety of a subsequent pregnancy following… the loss of a baby. So we were really… nervous. I went and… when I went for my scan at 12 weeks, we were… I was so nervous, like, because the last time I lay down for an ultrasound, someone told me that my baby had died; so I was really, really anxious. But then we discovered we were having twins. So it was shock, mixed with anxiety because I knew I was already high risk – because of what happened to Petal – and having twins, obviously I was high risk again. So, yeah, I was really anxious during my, my pregnancy – my fourth pregnancy.

40.35 Can you tell me a bit more about that, how it manifested itself?

40.38 Yeah, so when I discovered I was pregnant, the first thing I did was phone the bereavement midwives again. And then I was under the care… so I was under the care of the [name removed] and they were fantastic. I went… so I was pregnant with twins at my 12 weeks scan and then I had a scan at 18 weeks and unfortunately one of the twins had died. So, from me already being anxious I just went… it just hit another level because I was scanned then every 3/4 weeks and I was just convinced I was going to lose my baby again. And I felt like as a coping mechanism I couldn’t bond with the baby because I was just so convinced I was going to lose the baby. So in all these scans I just couldn’t look at the screen; I would look at the… I’d look at a board, which had all the extension numbers of the hospital, and I’d just memorise them during the scan because I didn’t want to listen; I didn’t want to look. I just wanted to get in and get out of the room. It was really, really… it was so hard, it was so… mentally tiring. And again, I just felt guilty because I had two little boys to look after and this… this uncertain anxiety… this anxiety was happening again and I had no control over it. And again, I had no control over the outcome of my pregnancy. Naively you think you have got control over it and you haven’t. Yeah, it was a really anxious time.

42.35 Tell me about parenting Buddy and Mattie at that time.

42.40 Well, I didn’t feel as ill as when I was pregnant with Petal. And they were more aware that mummy was having a baby; there was a baby in mummy’s belly. And I did involve them a little bit more. And I… I didn’t give myself too much of a hard time if we didn’t go out, if we just stayed in and watched the telly. And I was… I found… I was more laid back with them. And… I looked after myself better than I had done with Petal. I’d… I’d go to bed earlier and, you know, if the house wasn’t done, it wasn’t done, and that was fine. And I did feel like I did involve the boys more in the pregnancy than I did with Petal. We had a little bit more understanding.

43.44 Were you… you were… were you offered additional antenatal care and support during that pregnancy?

43.51 Yeah. Yes, I was under the care of the [name removed] clinic and it was amazing. I had scans every three weeks. So I had growth scans every three weeks, and then I had heparin injections as well during the pregnancy. So, I would probably be at the hospital on average every fortnight, and any concerns I had, any worries, I’d literally phone, tell them what was wrong, and I’d go in. If I felt like I had reduced movement, I’d go in and be scanned. And I was really anxious about the delivery, knowing that I had to, although I’d lost the twin at 18 weeks, I had to carry the twin full term and I was petrified of having to deliver another baby that had died. So, the consultant and the, the midwives were amazing, and I opted for – and they agreed – for a planned caesarian section, which really helped with my anxiety and worry. So, we just felt like it… the whole… the whole pregnancy and labour was planned and I knew what was coming and it helped… it helped me and Marc immensely to deal with it… to get… although… and I had a little girl which was amazing and it was so bittersweet because I was back on that labour ward, and although I’d had my little baby girl and she was healthy and she was alive, I also went back to the bereavement suite where we’d lost again. So, it was mixed emotions during the, the labour.

45.53 Tell me about meeting your… meeting Daisy at that point?

46.00 I was just… I actually although that because I’d lost Petal and I then because I’d lost another baby – Daisy’s twin – and we never found out the sex of the babies – I thought I that I couldn’t carry… the old wives tale, I couldn’t carry girls. And I was just convinced that Daisy was a boy, so when the… even… just before I had the section the consultant said, would you want us to tell you the sex or do you want us to lift the baby up so you can see? And I said… or Marc said, can we see ourselves first? And then, when they said, oh, you’ve had a girl… I was just… well Marc said it’s a girl. And I was like, no. Nah, it can’t be Marc; it’s not. And she was. It was just… the most… amazing experience of my… of my life. It was… it… I can’t describe it… I can’t put into words… the feeling of… relief that it was over and then knowing that she was a girl, but… Daisy was taken away to be weighed and washed and Marc went with her, and I do remember everything was really quiet again in the delivery… in the theatre because my twin… the twin was being delivered and I… and then it was, it takes you right back to Petal.

47.35 Can you tell me what happened next?

47.38 We went back to… we had our own room on the ward with Daisy. And… again, I didn’t want to see the twin – I reacted the same way I did with Petal. And I said, I think I couldn’t handle… I couldn’t handle any more emotion that day. But the twin that had died, the bereavement midwives arranged for a blessing for the twin and Marc went to see the twin. Obviously, they… it had been a further 22 weeks since they found out that the twin had died – so we didn’t know the sex of the twin and a lot of… the placenta was… it was difficult to tell the, the baby from the placenta. But Marc went and they, they had a blessing and Marc spent some time there while I stayed with Daisy.

48.44 How do you feel about all of that time now?

48.48 I just… I… that was my way of protecting myself; I just don’t think I could have dealt with… I couldn’t have dealt with it. The next day, you know, it was really difficult. Obviously it was really busy, it was a Saturday the following day… it was really busy so I was walking round the ward with Petal… with Daisy, and we were walking to the bereavement suite again. And you could see people looking and thinking, why are they going there? They’ve got a baby. Why are they going…? And you just, you’d rather just not give people eye contact than have to explain. And I also felt really guilty for not… we had a remembrance service at the church… the cemetery for the twin and we took Daisy with us – because Daisy was so much part of it. We didn’t take the boys, but Daisy was obviously new born. And I remember being in the, the crematorium and other mothers…especially…  the other mothers looking at me because I was there with a baby and… I felt like they think I shouldn’t be here but I had lost a baby too. And when I collected the ashes of the twin, it was really, really, really difficult. Because it felt so much more informal than Petal’s because it was a group cremation, it wasn’t just… like Petal’s was a service and she was cremated, whereas our twin was part of a, of a group and I just felt… the reality of everything just hit me and it’s just awful to have to do this again; I never want to do this again.

51.07 How has Petal affected your life now?

51.10 I feel like it was a before and after moment. I feel like I’ll never… it’s changed me – massively changed me – on every aspect. It changed mine and Marc’s relationship; it changed the way I, I am a mother to my children. I try and… my, I have, I have anxiety now, which I didn’t realise from before Petal. It’s losing a baby, you never ever get over it… you never. And… there’s some days where it just hits you: I can’t believe I went through that. I can’t believe that that happened to us; things like that don’t happen to us… Yeah, I think that it’s just a defining moment in our lives. And I actually feel I had post-traumatic stress since then. And now you always… because such a bad thing happened I expect bad things to happen more than I did before I had her.

52.42 Before Petal, what did you know? What was your awareness of… of, sort of, babies dying before they’re born?

52.51 I didn’t really… I was ignorant towards it. I probably had more knowledge on cot death than still… stillbirth. I didn’t really know anything about stillbirth… you’d hear the stories of traumatic labours and the baby died with, you know, if there was… with a cord round their neck or… you know… but what happened to, to me where you’re just carrying your baby. And you do think after 12 weeks, if you’ve had that scan and everything’s okay, you breathe a sigh of relief and alright, okay… everything’s going to be alright. And I was so ignorant to problems in pregnancy and things going wrong; I didn’t know… I didn’t know… I didn’t know anything – other than if there was problems in the actual labour.

53.55 You’re a nurse. Did having that medical background…? You know, what was it like having that medical background going through everything you went through?

54.06 Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss because if you have got knowledge you will… if you’ve got knowledge and anxiety, you will massively over think. So every twinge with Daisy, every pain I had, it… you just think the worst. And even logically, you know, there’ll be x, y and z why this would happen. You will think, no I’m going to lose this baby. So… I, having the knowledge there, I… it was very… it was tough and tiring because you just think things are going to go wrong. But then also, in a… it’s a relief in a way as well, ‘cause you do… I set myself goals: right I’ll get past 12 weeks; I’ll get past 14 weeks. And as every scan went and then I started hearing that the baby was growing you sort of like start relaxing a little bit thinking, alright, come on now, you know that this’ll be alright… you know this can be done if the baby’s delivered now. You know what can happen. You know, things might not be as bad as what you think. And when we opted for a planned c-section, I was really adamant that I… you know, I didn’t… I wanted it on a week day where the hospital was well staffed and… I didn’t want it to be rushed in the middle of the night where there could be doctors that are on call and no one knowing my… my history. And that was one of the, the things that I really wanted to specify… which helped, which helped my anxiety – because obviously I know how… I’ve got an idea of how hospitals are run and what can happen… when things go wrong.

56.09 How do you remember Petal now? Do you have mementos or…?

56.14 We… Marc took pictures of Petal – of her hands and her feet – but I, maybe it’s because I knew I wanted another baby but I didn’t… it took me a long time to… to look at them and see them. He took a picture of the doll that we gave her when she was born – which I’ve now got – and I cherish it because it’s has a… it’s stained a little bit with her blood and… but that it… that to me makes her more real, she… you know she lived – well she didn’t live, but she, she lived inside me – and we have her ashes with our twin as well. And people think that, you know, there’ll be a time when you want to scatter them, but I’m quite happy having them with me. I just don’t… I don’t feel like I need to scatter them. People asked us as well, would you not prefer her to be buried? And I just… I thought, if I had to bury her I’d never leave; I could never walk away knowing that that’s where she is. I’d rather just have her knowing that she’s, she’s here with us. And then we have her blanket. And then I’ve kept, there’s some parts of my… my maternity notes as well which I have, just like the… all it is is just the… like the folder, but that’s what I had when she was alive and that’s all I have of, of Petal.

58.19 What do you think it’s important for people to know about this experience?

58.27 Just that it happens; it’s happening all the time. Take… take the support that’s available in the hospital. If you or, you know, if any of your friends have ever experienced it, you know, don’t shy away and not talk about it because in, in my experience that doesn’t help with the grief because people can’t go through this on their own. And if they want to talk about it they should be allowed to talk about it – it’s their baby. It’s not… It shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet. It shouldn’t be forgotten and… it’s as much… Petal is as much a child of mine as Buddy, Mattie and Daisy are – as our twin is that we lost.  They are as much a part of our lives as any of our children. This, the whole experience of having lost a child… if, you know, it… we shouldn’t… it shouldn’t be a taboo thing and people should be allowed to discuss it and talk about it and not feel that it’s wrong to do so. Because I felt like that, I felt like I can’t say anything because I don’t want to upset people and no one wants to hear about it.

1.00.02 How has the experience affected you or changed your attitudes to things or…?

1.00.09 I’m just… I’m more… I am more cautious than I was. I think it’s made me… just appreciate my children. Even if you’re having them really bad days with them, they’re here and… just take the time out just to spend with them – even doing nothing; just to be with them. And… they grow up so fast and you don’t… like Daisy’s 8 months now and it’s gone… if I think back, when I was pregnant, 8 months leading me up to her having her felt like a lifetime because I was so anxious and now it’s just gone in a blink… blink of an eye and she’s, she’s amazing. But, yeah, it’s definitely… like this experience has changed me – and changed Marc. Defining moment in our lives.

1.01.19 Is there anything you feel particularly proud of or regret at all?

1.01.25 I do regret not holding her physically… not kissing her goodbye. Not spend… not… you know, letting the midwives take her away, I wish I would have spent more time, but I was just scared; I was just petrified of what was happening to my body and… I had no control over it, I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared of seeing my baby like that. I was scared of what she’d look like, what she’d feel like… But then I am proud of, of both me and Marc of trying again and going… as much as it was hard… going for the scans and finding out that we’d lost again, but just… I mean we had to do it – that was the only thing we could do, you know – but how it was really, it was such a difficult time in our life. But we did it and then we’ve got Daisy now.

1.02.53 Is there anything that you’d like to pass on to other bereaved parents?

1.03.00 I would say you’ve got to give yourself time. I mean we’re still grieving, we’re never going to stop grieving. But, yeah, just be kind to one another because you’ll both experience different things on different days and just because one day one of you feels, you know, you, we can move forward a little bit, we can start planning, that doesn’t mean that they’re not still grieving, you know. You’ve got to do it in your own time and just talk, you know. There are people out there you can speak to. Talk to each other. Don’t keep things bottled up because it turns into resentment after a while, and I think you can get so caught up in your own grief of what you’ve experienced – especially mothers – what you’ve experienced because it was your body and you had to go through that. I think that dads just are left; they’re forgotten about, you know… In my experience, you know, although I delivered Petal, it was Marc who had to deal with her, because it was taken… he took that off me because I couldn’t deal with that – and I never ever gave him the credit for that. And he was my rock – he is my rock. And at the time, when you’re just so caught up in your own grief, you don’t realise that other people are grieving, not just your partner but your family as well, you know they’ve lost… my parents lost a granddaughter, Marc’s parents lost a granddaughter, Buddy and Mattie lost a sister. And I think grief can be selfish and that’s fine, but you have got to realise it affects other people.

1.04.50 Is there anything else you’d like to say that you feel you haven’t had an opportunity to say?

1.04.55 One of the things is, since I lost Petal I felt that people pitied me because of that experience, but that isn’t, you know, I, I don’t want to be defined that I’m the mother who lost a child, I’m also… I’m also a mother of three healthy children as well, who… who just wants to say that there is help out there for bereaved parents… to, to carry on and you know even if it’s not… some parents may not want to have another child because of their loss, but there is so much help and support out there if, if you did want to go on to have a subsequent pregnancy… with… my personal experience with our… my midwives and our consultant that, that took us… that was under… we were under his care it was, it was amazing and having Daisy has been an amazing experience as well.


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Marc’s full interview

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0.00 I’m Mark; I am Petal’s dad who was a little, gorgeous girl who was born at 23 weeks and six days… and yeah, and this is my story.

0.16 Tell me how you and Aimee met.

0.19 Okay so, erm… I’m a doctor, and it was that typical doctor nurse romance. So, we met at a hospital we both worked at… and she was constantly calling me… and bleeping me – pretty much to do all her work for her, and, yeah, so we met like that, really. So that was… what was that now? She’ll… I’ll probably get it wrong – but it was probably about seven years ago, but yeah, so yeah, we met and… I am not from this neck of the woods so, I was up here training and then I pulled her down to where I used to live and then we came back up to this part of the country – which is where we had, had our kids really. Oh, we actually had two kids back in where, where I was from and then… this is… it was this part of the country we lost Petal… we’ve had a subsequent other gorgeous daughter.

1.20 What was your attitude to starting a family?

1.24 So, I’ve always wanted a family – and I’ve always wanted a biggish family. I’m from a smallish family actually – it was just me and my brother; there’s four years between us; I’m the oldest one but we actually are pretty much best mates. And I’ve been lucky enough to have a really great mum and dad – who both come from quite big families – so I’ve always had a very great upbringing, in my eyes… and so it was always a really important thing for me to have a family to do the same thing… and have that family unit. Aimee you’ll find is from a huge family. Her mum and dad have got something like seven each – sorry, seven brothers and sisters each, but yeah, so I always wanted to have a family. And I was – forget how old I was when I first… when we had our first little-un now? I was mid 30s, so I felt that was just the right time really for me to… for it to start.

2.29 Tell me about Aimee’s pregnancy with Petal.

2.33 Petal? Okay so, we’d… we’d luckily literally had two children before that. We’ve got two boys and we had them quite close together. So, we had one boy and then literally a year later we had another boy. And then got caught, pretty much a year later on the dot, so Petal would have been due a year later than our second boy – so it would have been one pretty much every year. And pretty much the first two pregnancies were… the pregnancies themselves were fine. The labour of our first boy was a bit difficult; second boy was fine. So we had no worries or past history that made us think there was going to be any problems at all and no one – none of our friends, none of our family – have had any problems either, so we were quite… oblivious to this kind of difficult world… so yeah, we were totally blind to what could happen we… so just thought everything would be fine. And went to the scans as normal. And we’d been through this routine twice before, so we were quite clued in.

3.52 And I remember, I always liked to go to the scans with her, and I remember we went to the scan and she was showing – and it was a bit of a shock actually, it was… I can’t remember, sorry I’m… my memory’s sometimes a bit off… I can’t remember which scan it was, but we went there and obviously we’d planned like a nice little day – because we did that with the scans. We made sure someone was looking after the kids and we’d go for the scan, I’d have the day off work and then we used to go somewhere afterwards and have like a meal and that. So we were all quite excited and that, and then obviously we got one of the doctors who scanned… sorry no, I’ll tell you what actually happened, it wasn’t the doctor, the doctor come in later, it was actually one of the sonographers scanned and said that Petal was showing a little bit small, but… you know, as they do, they just kinda say, it’s nothing to worry about. I’ll just run it past one of the doctors and they might want to scan you again in a couple of weeks. And yeah… so the doctor came down and also scanned and said we’ll get you into a special clinic because they were showing about two weeks smaller than should be. So they said, we’ll get you into a special clinic… just to monitor really – a placental clinic, I think it was called – just to monitor what was going on. But even then me and Aimee were… even though it was a little bit of a shock, we were just like, things are going to be fine; just going to be a bit of a small baby, but absolutely fine. A little bit anxious, and so went to…  we was referred to this next clinic. But, as I say, in the back of our minds we just thought everything’ll be absolutely fine and did a bit of reading about it on the internet – but not too much reading, just a little bit… and kind of figured out… that these things can happen and we’d never looked into the bad side of things.

5.56 And then so then we went to the next clinic – which was the placental clinic I think – and that was when… we had the… that was the difficult day really… that was, we went to the clinic. Again totally oblivious to what was going on – and you know not a difficult pregnancy or anything – just… you know, everything was going to be fine and that was how it was in our mind; we hadn’t even thought about it. And then literally, I can remember, we went into… it was in the waiting room… it was a special – as I say it was a placental clinic, so we wasn’t in like the, the usual scanning rooms where there’s lots and lots of people; it was consultant-led clinics. So we went into this little room and the consultant – quite cheerful, obviously… and Aimee on the bed and I was sat next to her and we had the monitor in front of us, if I remember? Because they turn the monitor round so you can actually see, see the little-un. And I remember him – when he was doing the ultrasound scan – I remember he kept… he was just taking longer than you’d expect. With the other two kids that we had, they go straight in and they go, look, oh, there’s your baby’s legs; or, there’s your baby’s arms. And he just seemed to be like taking a long time and… obviously, you know, trying to figure out what was going on. And then I remember… and Aimee was looking at me and I was looking and… as I mentioned before, I… I am a doctor, and so I have actually looked at these scans before – I’m not at all in that field – and so I’d kind of glimpsed across and saw that it probably wasn’t great news ‘cause I couldn’t see the signs that I’d normally see.

7.53 And then I remember him… he… he was quite – which I was glad at the time actually – he, he, he didn’t kind of waffle or anything, he just said, I think he said, I’m really sorry but… your baby’s died. I think was his exact words. Which… obviously was… I think I didn’t actually take it in straight away. Aimee just like turned to me and started screaming and crying – not screaming, sorry, that’s over the top – just started, you know… I kinda was in a bit of shock actually. I was like… I looked at him and was like, what did you just say? Because totally out the blue – totally out the blue. But massive shock and then… you wanted to just, kind of, grab Aimee and hug her, but obviously he was just still needed to do certain things, so he was still looking at the scan and then wanted to get someone else in the room just to confirm it. And obviously, me and Aimee were just, kind of, in a total shock really.

9.02 I don’t think I cried actually then, I was just… just holding Aimee and she was like in absolute shock. I mean, as I say, I remember, it was just like this tiny little room… it wasn’t tiny room, but it was a small room, and we were just left there then while he went to get someone else. We were just left in this room and we just kind of just hugged… held each other; just kind of looked at each other, didn’t know what to say. So, Aimee was crying and… as probably, if any men are kind of listening, I guess you feel like you have to be a bit of a… a support, so as I’ve said, I don’t think I cried at the time, I felt like I had to kind of stay focused at what needed to be done. So, yes, we were in… it felt like ages but it was probably only about a couple of minutes, we was just in this room and, kind of, not really speaking but just holding each other and Aimee was crying. And then the doctor come back and I think he brought a bereavement midwife with him, and, and then obviously, they then needed to then rescan Aimee, which – you didn’t… I didn’t really want to let go of her and I don’t think she wanted to let go of me, but we had to kind of, ‘cause obviously they had to rescan to… so that someone else could confirm that Petal had passed away. So he did that relatively quickly, but it was just that they needed that confirmation. And then I think we, we were quite fortunate – if you can say that – that there was actually bereavement midwives literally there to hand in the clinic and we thought – if you can class it as fortunate – so they obviously were experienced in this and been through it before, and so straight away they kind of took the lead and started chatting to us and comforting us – while the doctor was figuring out what needed to be done next. And then, they asked if we could move into… if we wanted to move into a bit of a quieter room and it wasn’t… it literally was just a couple of rooms down, so we went a couple of rooms down to get… Aimee got her coat on and that and went a couple of rooms back down and it was… we sat down and the bereavement midwife came in with us and obviously… was comforting Aimee and I was kind of just sitting there and Aimee was crying.

11.53 As I say, it’s difficult to remember the exact things that went on then because it was very emotional, but what needed to… what happened was, I think, the doctor came in probably about five minutes later, 10 minutes later and they had to sit down and tell us what needed to be done next… which meant that we needed… obviously needed to take some kind of medication that would mean that Petal would be delivered. And it would take a couple of days for that to happen. And they’d, we’d have the book in to come back to the ward to deliver the baby. And I remember Aimee at the time – which I guess a lot of women think that – saying, I don’t think we could deliver it… deliver her sorry. I don’t think we could deliver her. Is there any way I could have a section? Because, I guess, you know, the thought of having to go through labour – because she’d been through two labours before, so she knew how difficult labours can be – and the thought that that could… we could have to of go through all that again without… with a child that had passed away. But we was told obviously – and rightfully so – told that, you know, it wouldn’t be advised to do that – to have a c-section. And that this labour would, could be a little bit different when… and the reason being is that obviously you wouldn’t need to be in any pain because you could have pain killers which you couldn’t have during the other labours.

13.35 So, we were there for, it seemed… I think it was hours actually we were there… and they were brilliant in one respect that, you know, they didn’t push… it didn’t feel like you were being hurried out or anything, it felt like they were just there to actually support you. It really felt… for someone who works in the NHS, really I was dead proud of the NHS in that situation – they were brilliant. And we had to obviously… whilst trying to… Aimee obviously was really upset, but she was still dealing with it really well, but I was trying to kind of focus on what needed to be done and yeah obviously certain things needed to be signed and certain you know medication needed to be taken… remember when they gave Aimee the medication she looked at me as in, should I take these? Because obviously, it’s a… an end point and when you take them that means that, you know… in your head, even though you’ve been told that you lost your, your child, that, that point of actually taking the medication is kind of like a that’s… that’s it then. So, I think, yeah, we took the medication and, there was… as I say, the midwife was there all the time: she was brilliant. She must have literally had to put own all her other work because literally she was just there with us for a like a couple of hours. And they were brilliant.

15.00 And then, that was it really. Then we literally… I know it sounds strange, we just had to get up… we got up and just left as if like… carry on your day – which I think was… was just shocking. Not shocking as in anyone’s wrong… no one did anything wrong, but shocking that we just left and carried on our normal day with our child had passed away and they were inside Aimee’s… Aimee’s belly and we were just like off home… and it was just very, very strange. And… and I think those next two days were very… I don’t… it’s difficult to put into words, kind of, the emotion those two days – especially Aimee knowing that she had this had – I keep saying this – but had our child like in her belly and we had to wait those couple of days. And I think a lot of her was, in her head, now and again she’d just say, I just want to have her out now… because obviously I can’t get in her head and some of the things I say obviously, being the man of the couple sometimes you feel like the woman’s going though it 10 times worse – and they are, they are going through it a lot worse.

16.18 So, we were planning, I think this was a Wednesday – I’m sure it was a Wednesday – and then Friday we had to go in. But they’d kind of said, the midwives had said, that it wouldn’t be like your other pregnancies as in you wouldn’t have to just go in and wait, the ward would all be kind of informed and they’d kind of… you’d be ushered off to a room that’s a bit away from everyone else. And I was a bit surprised that they actually had a room that was specifically for this, because obviously this is for someone who… even in the medical profession I didn’t come across that very often, but I think not knowing any friends that had been through it, the fact that there’s an actual room in a hospital that’s for people having stillborns is a bit surprising; that actually it happens that often. So, the fact that they actually had a room that they use for that was a bit… well, I was really surprised actually.

17.23 So, we went in, as I say, I think that was a Friday, we went straight… we planned obviously fo, for stopping overnight, like you would. And we’d thought about what… we’d tried to think about what we would want Petal wrapped in or anything like that. And I think we’d gone out and… we went to… went to like a local shopping centre to actually buy clothes to put on our… dead baby really, which was horrible walking round the child bits where they’re selling clothes, to actually buy clothes for your… for your child that’s passed away which… that was just a horrendous day actually, if I remember. And we couldn’t find anything small enough – we couldn’t find anything at all small enough, so we… I think we bought a blanket in the end; we just bought a blanket in the end. And I think they – the bereavement midwives – had said that they have volunteers that actually knit very, very small clothes for stillbirths or late miscarriages, because obviously you can’t get those clothes – I think we’d even looked on the web… on websites and there is actually a place you can order them from, which again was all new to me that the fact that this actually little world is… there’s this little world out there that…

18.59 So, anyway, went in on the Friday – I think it was and – straight to the room… obviously not really much to talk about on the day, me and Aimee… And again, brilliant from the NHS point of view I thought, you know, they’d all planned that in advance, the same bereavement midwife came up to see us and the doctor came up to see us. And then, obviously I think we had some more medication. I can’t remember exactly… but that started the labour off. And one thing that was a little bit different with this labour is Aimee had… they’d put up what’s called a PCA, which is like a drip that goes in your arm with pain… where you press a button, where you can actually… you’re in control of your own pain, because I’m guessing, you know, a lot of people who go through this, obviously there’s the emotional pain which is horrendous but then there’s the physical pain of having to go through labour and those mix together… but the fact that you got a bit more control over your physical pain, because obviously your child’s passed away so it doesn’t matter about the amount of drugs that you, you have so… And I remember – I hope Aimee doesn’t mind – but she was clicking away. But I guess it was half the pain that she was trying to click away was like the physical and the other half she was trying to click away was the emotional pain obviously to cover that. In the labour, I can’t remember how long it went on for but it seemed forever again, this labour  going on and… obviously Petal was smaller so it didn’t seem to take as long as a normal labour and… but the entire way through was just, just, as I say, I kind of blanked it out of my mind a little bit because it was just… just adrenaline pumping through my system is all I remember.

20.58 Now, we’d kind of planned as well, in those two days, that Aimee didn’t want to see Petal. And there’s no right or wrong at all – some people want to see them, but some didn’t. So, I took it on myself that I was going to, kind of, hold Petal and clean her… clean her and put her clothes on her and then put her in… whatever basket there was. So, I think after the delivery – which I’m sure Aimee will tell you more about that because she probably remembers that – the midwife, the bereavement midwife took Petal away to the room just to, well, clean… I guess, to clean her up a little bit and she was kind of ushered away… and they’d, they’d already asked do you want to see her and everything, so they knew Aimee didn’t want, want to… and took her away to another room and I think they got… because they needed to remove the placenta and that… and then when they brought her back – that was it, sorry… then Aimee went to… or went to sleep, I think it was, which I was very happy for her to go to sleep because she’d been through… she hadn’t slept for days and I think she felt like it was about time she could sleep – which I was grateful for. So she went to sleep and I was there then, so I then kind of signalled to the bereavement midwife that it was… I was… like to go and see Petal. And then, so I had a couple of hours actually while Aimee was asleep where I had Petal in the room with me. And I kind of cleaned her the best I could and held her, and give her a little kiss on her head and then wrapped her in the blanket that we bought. And then they’d supplied these, kind of… I don’t know what it was made of these little boxes. It was a little box actually – no it wasn’t, it was a little basket. They had supplied them – the hospital had – and we’d… I’d put her in this basket, in her little blankie. And they said that you could do some footprints, but to tell you the truth Petal was too small to do these little footprints and I didn’t like… I didn’t feel like doing it either, so I just took a couple of pictures of her feet and her hands… but I didn’t – I, I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of her face actually. I think it was in the back of my head that I didn’t want Aimee to see it because I thought it would make her more upset.

23.42 But, yeah, so… and then after those couple of hours I kind of handed Petal back to the midwife and… she said that… she showed me where she was going to be stopping which was like a little kind of, well, obviously like… a little mortuary that they had. And that was it really. That was the day of the labour and then obviously the… another horrible, horrible thing was walking off the ward, with all our bags and all that, without a baby, if you know what I mean? Leaving her there, which was… and especially when you’re on a ward where other childrens are being born, when you’re seeing other mums walking round with their… but that was something that was difficult as well. And then, so yeah, then it was kind of about coming to terms with it really and planning the next steps.

24.41 How do you feel about the time that you spent with Petal, retrospectively now?

24.47 Yeah, it was worth its weight in gold. Just those few hours of just me being like her dad for a little bit and making sure she was all… clean and then kind of… I know it sounds strange but like wrapped up all like cosy and that. So, yeah… I wouldn’t change that at all. Obviously it was difficult to see… it was difficult, but I’m grateful for it as well. It was difficult at the time, initially, but then I’m, I’m quite grateful for it now looking back. And I don’t know whether… at the time obviously it’s so emotional, I think sometimes Aimee has a wish sometimes that she’d held her. But at the time, I don’t think she was in that frame of mind that she could have. Part of me wanted to kind of protect her from that as well. I think… she has mentioned a couple of times that she wishes she had. But as I say, how you feel at that point is totally different to how you feel a few years down the line. So, yeah, I’m really grateful for that.

25.58 Do you remember how you felt when you met her for the first time?

26.06 I…erm…  I’m trying to think whether it was the same as when I met my other children. It probably was actually. I can remember… kind of holding to her and just talking to her and then for some reason in my head picturing, kind of, all the things that she could have been in the future… and then… but yeah… I can’t… it’s strange to… ‘cause it’s so emotionally charged that sometimes you… when you’re so emotional sometimes your memory doesn’t work so well, I don’t think, but I do remember kissing her on the top of her head and talking to her – well, whispering to her actually because I didn’t want to wake up Aimee, who was asleep – so just whispering to her and telling her than she’ll be fine and that, you know we’ll see… that her brothers would have loved meeting her. But, yeah, so… it was, it was a nice time but it was obviously a horrendous time and nice time at the same time… Yeah, so I’m grateful for having that… that short time. Yeah.

27.26 Do you remember what you told your elder children about Petal?

27.35 So they would have been, they were quite young at the time. They were two and three I think, or one and two? I can’t remember off the top of my head, but we tried to explain, because they knew that mummy had a baby in her belly. And one of them wanted a boy and one of them wanted a girl. I think, yeah, my youngest wanted a girl and my eldest wanted a boy. And they knew it was in mummy’s belly and then we… I don’t think we told them ‘cause obviously those… for the first two days, when we were waiting to go into the hospital we didn’t, because obviously that was just so emotional that they… my parents – that was it – I think my parents had come and looked after them, to help us. But then afterwards we were trying to explain that Petal had gone to heaven. And obviously trying to explain death… we didn’t really explain death, but had gone to heaven. And to this day, I can honestly say – obviously it’s a few years down the line but – and we’d tried to explain that she’d gone to heaven and that – and they still say, like mention Petal and in heaven, probably like a few times a week, like… if like there’s telly and someone’s hurt or something like that, they end up going to heaven like Petal. Or like, if like in the last few years there’s been like family members that have passed away, they say, oh, Petal will look after them in heaven. So she’s actually quite talked about by the kids and they’re locked in their head that Petal’s up there looking down at them. So there’s a nice kind of memory for them even though… so yeah, that… so I’m, I’m surprised how much they took it on board obviously and… and…

29.30 Obviously they could see how sad we were, so they realised that it’s a sad time. So they are… when they talk about it there’s this element of sadness there as well. Even though they’re so young, they still kind of – in their own ways, kind of – can understand, to a certain extent then, that their sister’s kind of up there… But yeah… she is probably mentioned, I’ve got to admit, probably a few times a week, mainly, you know, brought up by the kids or something like that. So, it’s nice from that respect.

30.03 Do you remember being offered a post-mortem at the hospital?

30.08 Yes, so… after we’d… yeah. After we’d had Petal and I’d… and we’d been in the delivery room for… as I say, several hours ‘cause we were moved to the room next door – which I’m hoping wasn’t because someone else needed that room, but it might have been because I remember the bereavement midwife say they’d booked someone else in – so we moved to another room and we were visited again several times by the bereavement team. And then the consultant that we were under, who we’d seen in that placenta clinic, came… and was very good as well. I’m guessing… I think he runs a… obviously he must deal with that quite often. And he was very good as well and he came down. And surprisingly even the – which I was… as I say, it shows how people pull together – but the doctor who did our scan at the… and this was when we was obvious to anything, when the sonographer did the scan, the first time they said Petal was a bit small, and the doctor came in, she… we’d never met before and it was actually… she must have been working across a different area because it was in a different hospital at that point – she actually came that night as well. So she must have been quite… it must have been passed on to her, and she must have been, you know, have… a bit emotional about it. So, the doctor came and asked us about a post-mortem, yeah… and sat down and, and tried to explain the benefits and the negatives obviously. And in his opinion and it was… obviously they’d be able to get some kind of knowledge from there, because we knew we wanted to try again – even at that point – even though it was horrible… we didn’t want to try straight away, but… we knew that was what we wanted… and obviously they discussed about the post-mortem and explained what would happen – which obviously is not the nicest thing – but… we, we thought that if it could be any positive out of it, Petal would have wanted that kind of positive, if it meant that in the future… any… it would help her to… if there was any brothers and sisters.

32.41 So yeah, we signed the form before we left the hospital – I think I signed it actually, not Aimee, because, I think, as I say… Aimee was still very emotional about it – which is understandable. So, yeah, we had a long chat about it, but I think me and Aimee had already mentioned it beforehand, that if it was… if it would help in any way to us, then, then we would. But… again, there’s no right or wrong, I think, it’s just how… what you want to get from it really. So, but there is a… there’s… obviously if you have a post-mortem it does take a bit of time and it’s not so it… there’s a little bit of that difficulty there that, you’re not… you’ve got to hold on a little bit longer for that bit of closure, if, if – well, not closure; it’s never really closure – but until you can get to that bit where there’s like a little funeral and that; you have to hold off a little bit longer… But yeah, even then we still thought it was the right thing for us to do, so yeah, we had a post-mortem done, yeah.

33.49 And how do you feel… what did the post-mortem reveal?

33.55 It… truthfully it was inconclusive… But the good thing is that they said there were no genetic problems – because obviously that’s something that can be picked up. So, there’s no genetic issues. They thought it might be due to… clotting, increased clotting in the placenta. But equally they said that that could have just been, as… because Petal might have… ‘cause she would have passed away a few days before when they have the tablet and that – well, she would have passed away before that, but – so they can’t be hundred per cent… But the one thing they said is that it wasn’t no genetic factors linked to it, so it wouldn’t make you think that you’d need genetic testing for the next child and it… The only thing it pointed towards – because not only that, they also did loads of blood tests on Aimee as well, to rule out infection or anything like that. And I think they came up with the fact that – because the placenta there was a little bit more clotting, and they found something in Aimee’s blood that might have increased the amount of clotting – that just meant that in future pregnancies they would have put her on… well, heparin, which is like a blood thinning medication so that that might not happen in the future. So… so, yeah… so I’m guessing, we did get a bit of a positive and it helped us for the future, but ultimately it was like an inconclusive thing, as in like, there was nothing major that they found wrong.

35.31 How do you feel about having done the post-mortem now?

35.36 I… am still okay with it. I’m still okay with it. I’m… I guess, I’m not like a religious person or anything like that, I… and in my head I think that if… if… you know if Petal had a say she would have said if it could help in any way, I would like you to do it, so… yeah, so I’m still happy with it. I’m happy with that decision, yeah.

36.11 Was… can you… did you have to go and register the death or were there other things you had to do after leaving the hospital?

36.21 So as I mentioned, when I introduced myself, Petal was… well, unfortunately – or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it – was one day… not even one day, was like hours off being classed as you know a real person in the light of the, you know, the legal system or the NHS so she was literally within hours would have been classed as… and we would have had to do a death certificate then. And this might sound strange but actually at the time – I know this sounds strange, but I was actually quite relieved that she wasn’t, because we’d been through so much that I felt like… I’m happy that we don’t have to do any other paperwork, because in my head she always was, so it didn’t bother me, in a way, that she didn’t have a death certificate and that because – at that time anyway, at that time, should I say, it didn’t bother me – because I still thought, that’s my little girl. And I just felt like we’d… you know, we needed to kind of get away from this and, and grieve, as opposed to just filling in paperwork about it. So, at the time I was quite relieved and now looking back, I’m like that was probably a little bit selfish and it probably would have been nice to have an official you know recognition that she was there.

37.54 But the fact that it was literally just hours shows kind of, a bit how arbitrary the, the cut off date is if you imagine. That literally hours later she would have been classed as a, you know, a proper person and, and just ‘cause she… it wasn’t, then she wasn’t classed as a… yeah. So at the time, yeah, strangely enough I was a little relieved because I just wanted us to move… I wanted us to kind of… not have any more stress on Aimee and all that. But now, looking back, it probably would have been nice if, if there was a little bit more recognition just because of how close she was to that date.

38.35 Did the fact that Petal was born at 23 weeks and six days have any other… implications – in terms of maternity leave or anything like that?

38.47 I think it would… luckily it didn’t because Aimee wasn’t working at the time. And, but I… you can’t quote me on this, but I think it might have actually had an effect on maternity leave. I think it might have done. Which is totally wrong if that was the case. But Aimee was looking after the other two so it didn’t actually affect us in that way. But, as I say, I don’t know the ins and outs; I didn’t look at it then. I think it might have done, it might have had an affect if Aimee was working – because Aimee’s a nurse in the NHS and she would have needed that time off. But, yeah it didn’t affect us personally because Aimee was already having time off with the other two.

39.35 Taking you back… what… tell me about the first few days back home without Petal.

39.46 Yeah, so… I’m trying to think actually, it’s kind of like a bit of a blur because you, you have such an intense few days running up to it that literally when you get home it’s like you’ve just all of… you haven’t hardly slept for days and you’ve been running on all this adrenaline that you’ve kind of… just… you must just, like I say, I can’t remember it brilliantly, so you must just kind of relax – or try and relax, if you know what I mean, or try and sleep. Or try and get back to some kind of normality – if that’s possible.

40.23 But as I say, whether it’s the same with all men but I do remember trying to kind of keep everything going, if you now what I mean, and ‘cause… and letting Aimee kind of grieve and rest and that. And while I kind of tried to keep our family and that kind of moving forward, if you know what I mean? As in, you know, picking up the kids, seeing how they’re doing and that.

40.52 I do remember Aimee kind of having lots of thoughts about obviously being… Petal being left in the mortuary on her own and that. And wanting to go there and just sit with her. And, yeah, so… I apologise, I can’t remember huge amounts about that time. But I remember, as I say, lots of details about the run up to it, but then that, just that bit afterwards, I don’t know whether you just kind of let your brain turn off a little bit because you’ve had such an intense few days. Yeah, I remember just being pretty much with Aimee and we’d have people pop in now and again, but obviously…

41.35 Family and friends want to come round to… and be with you when you’re in that difficult time – which sometimes good and sometimes you want to be on your own. And as I said to start, none of our family or friends have been through anything like that so… not that they ever said the wrong thing, but they probably didn’t know what the right thing was to say, if you know what I mean? It’s so mixed emotions for everyone that I don’t think anyone, you know… They all had best intentions at heart, but I think sometimes they might say something… and, and obviously our emotions are on edge as well, so we might have been a bit snappy with family or something like that… But they all had best intentions at heart and I remember, as I say, my mum and dad driving up from where… from where I used to live and that quite often and just coming and wanting to do things like do the housework for you or stuff like that to help. But yeah, so everyone that we knew tried their best, but it was just a strange situation, as I say, and, and I don’t think any of them knew what to say. And we didn’t know what to expect either – so it was just strange. And I think if you talk to Aimee… when you speak to Aimee she’ll say she… she got upset a few times with things that people were saying. Not that they meant to say anything bad, just because they weren’t… didn’t know what to say either… so yeah, strange… strange times, I think. Weird times.

43.12 And we had to obviously organise a funeral as well. Which… we… yeah, we decided on… to have funeral ourselves. That was, sorry, that was another option they gave us because… again, I was totally oblivious to the fact this happens so often and that they actually have a, a monthly kind of funeral with all the kind of stillbirths – or they offer this should I say – or miscarriages, late miscarriages. And they have like a, a service every month where the hospital will organise it all for you to… so you can, so you don’t have to worry about that and they organise it all, and then they have a service where they’re all cremated, all these together, all these little, little boys or girls. But we didn’t want that… for Petal so we approached a funeral directors and… again, I was absolutely surprised at how in these situations how brilliant people can be. These are people who I’ve never met before in the funeral directors and they were absolutely brilliant and… not just with their time – like they’d let us come and see Petal – not just with their time but they were just so very kind of emotionally linked with it as well, I think.

40.48 And… and yeah, so we organised that and we got… Aimee’s mum goes to church a lot, although Aimee’s not that religious at all. And so we spoke to the vicar or the priest there – and he was brilliant as well. And he came and saw us one of the nights and asked us what kind of readings we’d like to go through, if any. And, yeah so, he was good in that respect as well so it… and… I’ll talk about the funeral actually.

45.28 It was… was at a crematorium and I don’t know whether there’s any… there’s no right or wrong rules, but obviously lots of family members were saying… and we just said that we just wanted it to be me and Aimee. We didn’t take the boys either. So we went to the funeral home and we picked up Petal. And the funeral directors – obviously they’d been absolutely brilliant, these two ladies – and they’d asked us if we wanted them to take Petal and we said, no we wanted to take her. So for some… I vividly remember us carrying out this kind of like, it was kind of like a woollen box actually. It was like a little woollen square box which we’d organised with the funeral directors to get, and Aimee worrying about where we’d put it in the car. Because I said it would be nice if we drive ourselves – because they did offer again, do we want to go in one of their cars? And I said, no. I think there’s something in about driving ourselves. So I drove and Aimee held Petal on her lap while we were driving – which was quite nice. We just had this kind of half an hour drive which was nice, because that was the… probably one of the times where Aimee had kind of held Petal. Although saying that, sorry, I missed that when she was in the funeral home, we went a few times. And although obviously we didn’t get Petal out of this little box… sorry, I did because I actually looked to see whether she was still wrapped in the blanket that we give her. Aimee kind of wanted just to sit in the same room as her. So there was a couple of times – which Aimee’ll tell you about – where she just… we just sat in the room with her for a couple of hours, in the viewing room, I guess, but she would just sit there.

47.34 But we had this kind of half an hour drive, as I say to the thingy, which was really nice and we were kind of talking to her and saying how much we loved her and that. Then we went to the crematorium and there was just me and Aimee there and this vicar who did the readings and then I… Aimee and me had picked out a poem which I’m totally… don’t ask me to remember, ‘cause I’ve totally forgot it, but I read it out and it was like… Aimee will remember it, she’s got an absolutely brilliant memory, but… I read it out to Aimee and the vicar. And then I remember, Petal was like on the… on like an… on the alter, I think it was, or at the front and then the curtain gradually came down. Me and Aimee just stood there, in the middle of the crematorium, just holding each other as the curtain came down and it was playing… we’d picked I think it was Take That song… and I’ve totally forgot the name while we’re talking, but Aimee will remember it. We picked this song by Take That, which he’d wrote for his daughter. I forgot what it’s called now, but it doesn’t matter. And the curtain gradually come down and that was kind of like the last time we saw her… as, as the curtain was coming down and she was in this little box on top of the alter. And then strangely as we was walking out the woman from the funeral home was crying her eyes out as well which was a… a nice thing actually, a nice thing to see. And that was kind of like the… that… that bit. It was a nice… nice day actually, if you can say it’s a nice day. It was a nice memory should I say; it was a nice memory. As I say, if you can say that. It’s weird when you say things like that – it was a nice memory or it was a nice moment – when you’re thinking about something so horrible, but yeah… it was a nice… it was nice. Just me and Aimee there and no one else, as I say, no other family members, we didn’t… we just wanted it to be with just the two of us. Yeah, so that was nice.

49.55 Moving forward, can… how did you feel about getting pregnant again and trying again?

50.03 So, Aimee was quite adamant she wanted to get pregnant again quite soon. I think she was obviously that kind of mothering instinct was still there and I, as I say, I, I was a bit dubious, do we wait a little bit long… wait a little bit, or do we try? But it was as if it was kind of healing thing if we’d got pregnant again, it would have been a kind of healing thing. And in my head I was thinking, I knew… For some reason, I felt like we’d have a girl again – because that would literally be fate if you know what I mean – whether I believe in it, but obviously in those times you believe in all these kind of things of fate, and that things have happened for a reason and all this… But for some reason I had it in my head that that was, we were definitely, one hundred percent going to have a girl because we’d lost a girl and that her – whether it… whether you believe in it or not, I don’t know – her spirit would still be there. These are the kind of things that we talked about… that like it’ll… you know, we’ll, she’ll come back and it was all meant to be like that.

51.15 So yeah, we luckily got pregnant quite soon actually. We got… It would have been – obviously not straight away because obviously it was… but it was probably within several months we got pregnant again – but obviously there was a massive anxiety linked with that. There was a big… we want it to happen, but there was a big anxiety, as in what could go wrong again, or could something go wrong? Because, as I say, once this little door into this world’s been opened, you can’t close it again. And as I say, there’s… with our other kids we were totally oblivious to this little world and once you open that door, you, you walk through, then every bit of anxiety goes through the roof and, as I say, you can’t close that door again, you can’t kind of ever put it back in the box and go back to your lovely pregnancies that… the first pregnancy was all these lovely, I feel, you know, like a lovely feeling… I guess for women, as I say Aimee’ll tell you this, but as I say, like a feeling everything’s going to be great and it’s a lovely time and this is the great time for women where you feel so great and all that… and it’s a different… different feeling I think after her, because there’s so much anxiety and worry about it.

52.35 So when we got pregnant – as I say we got pregnant – luckily for us we got pregnant quite soon and we… were put under a special clinic, which was specifically for people who’d had this problem before. We were really, really lucky because there’s not many in the country and so the bereavement midwives who had dealt with us initially were the people who ran this clinic with specialised consultants. And they were absolutely brilliant, absolutely brilliant. But obviously scans… so whenever we went to this clinic it was, let’s say, the build up for each clinic date because what we did, number one we had to be scanned a bit earlier than normal to see if everything was okay, and they we had the normal dating scan and then anomaly scan and then we had to be scanned every two weeks after that. And Aimee was on some medication, she was on higher dose folic acid, she was on high dose vitamin D and then she was on these Heparin injections that she’d have to give herself every day and luckily she’s a nurse so she can do that. Now, talking about the clinic, I can’t praise the clinic enough, it was absolutely brilliant, it’s run by the bereavement midwives, they deal with that all the time; they are the best. As I say the NHS does provide sometimes you think, why anyone would bad mouth the NHS, because sometimes it’s the most amazing thing in the world and people do all this stuff and do, go above and beyond – not for any extra money or anything – just because that’s what they want to do to help, and the doctors there are brilliant as well. And they do the same as well; so I can’t praise the nurses without praising the doctors, but I do think sometimes the doctors get all the praise, which is weird when I say I’m a doctor, but sometimes the nurses don’t get the praise and they’re the ones grafting away as well.

54.45 But, coming up to the clinic dates, you could see Aimee, kind of, as the days got a bit closer – one or two days just before – you could see a change in her. She’d start getting like this massive anxiety start building up. And the day of the actual clinic appointment I kind of had become more of a… I’d kind of got into this routine where, without sounding thingy… I didn’t think about myself, I didn’t even think about the appointment that much, it was just like my day was to try and make it easy for Aimee. So I’d try to make it… the day fly easier for Aimee because I knew she was so… getting worked up about it and so the clinic appointments for me were more about trying to keep Aimee relaxed. And then… when we was at the clinic, again the clinics were brilliant because they weren’t where the normal clinics were so it wasn’t like you were waiting in a big room with loads of pregnant women who’d never had any problems before. You was in a very small clinic where there might have been one or two people in the waiting room and, as I say, you were always welcomed by the same staff and all the staff kind of knew what your… what had happened so you didn’t have to explain it. You always used to see the same consultant. And they… Aimee, I don’t know, as I say, because of the anxiety and that, she didn’t want to look at the scans, so they’d turn off the telly in front of you – for Aimee – but then they’d keep the side telly on – because I did want to look at them, because I had this optimistic thing in my head that everything was going to be fine.

56.31 So we went to these scans… so as I say each scan was just… you could picture Aimee building up more anxiety, so we went to about the… I can’t… I honestly can’t remember. We went to so many scans, but we found out when we went to the… the dating scan, which was about 12 weeks – because we hadn’t had a scan before that – that we were having twins. So although, you know, we’d lost Petal and the next pregnancy was twins, and we were like… absolute shock. But again in our head thinking, ah this is like meant to be. This was like, you know, this is what the universe wanted of us: that we’d lost one and we’re going to get two to make up for it. Which… absolute shock. I remember walking out the room in just like shock that, wow we’re having twins; and that’s not planned for. And what are we going to do? And, oh my God. And that’ll mean we’ll have four kids.

57.29 But, as I say, we went to… so that was at about 12 weeks and then we went to another scan and, yeah… and I remember the people in the clinic – we went to this scan and it was fine. And I remember the doctor in the clinic going, oh no – as in like, there quite characters – in a nice way. Because obviously it’s very… if someone’s lost a pregnancy I guess there’s not much research and that for what you do the next one when twins. So they were like, oh that’s going to be… you’re going to be pulling his hair our. The nurse made a joke something like, the doctor’s going to be pulling his hair out to try and figure out how to best help you, anyway.

58.08 But then we went… so that was probably, I cant remember, it might have been 16 or 18 weeks, we were being scanned as I say every couple… it was before the… well, it might have even been the 20 week scan where they were doing the measurements. We were in the room and – as I say Aimee wasn’t looking at the scans, I was looking at the scans – and I… I noticed that the doctor doing the scan was doing a similar thing to like when we found out about Petal. As in taking a little bit longer and not showing like straight away going, oh look, there’s the baby’s heartbeat… And, yeah… so we, you know, found out that day that we’d lost another baby. So, one of the twins had passed away – between that 12 and 20 week period – and the other twin was absolutely fine. So, again, after just coming out of like this horrible thing with Petal, come into this and it was like the weirdest mixed emotion day ever, as in you’re told one of your babies has passed away, but the other one’s absolutely fine. So you’re like joyous that one’s fine and in shock that they other one’s thing… so emotion-wise, I, I can’t even explain it, because it was… I didn’t know what you could… if anyone could explain… I don’t think words could do it. Because we were just like, how could this happen to us again? But at the same time everything’s fine with the other baby. Really… difficult, but not for some reason, not as difficult – although it was difficult – but didn’t seem as difficult,as with Petal. Don’t know why. Don’t know why. Can’t explain that why. It just didn’t seem as difficulty as when with Petal.

1.00.10 But again, it’s as if like you got used to the procedure: to call another doctor in; confirm that this has happened and then… explain to us that… that generally what normally happens is you just carry the dead twin with you and when you give birth to the – touch wood – to the other one, the… the dead one will come out at the same time. So then there was a difficult period of Aimee coming to terms – and me – that you’re carrying again another dead baby inside you. But this time it’s not going to be a couple days, it’s gonna be another 20 weeks you’ve got to carry this child inside you for. And at the same time then even being more anxious for the other twin, because if one’s passed away is the other one? So… actually I remember that was on Christmas Eve, even make it even worse. It was on Christmas Eve and it was one year ago, not this Christmas just gone, the Christmas before. And it was Christmas Eve this scan was, and we came back, and that Christmas was just like… shroud in kind of… a black cloud, if you know what I mean? But with bits of joyous in… because we was happy that we was still pregnant, if you know what I mean?

1.01.34 But yeah it was on Christmas Eve… and I remember we walked in the house – and obviously, I think Aimee’s mum was there and were looking after the kids – and obviously we explained what happened and I don’t think… you know, Aimee’s mum’s usually around and helps a lot, but I don’t think she understood what to say or anything. So she kind of says, I’ll just leave you on your own then. Because I don’t think she knew what to say, so I think she, she just left. But it was just like… I don’t think anyone would know what to say in that situation. So that was, as I say, a difficult Christmas. And then… and obviously then, as I said, the scan, the day… you could picture it, it was as if like… you’d get your scan and it’d say everything was fine and Aimee… you could literally all of a sudden just see in like the tension, ugghhh… as if like you’d had some happy drug or something and all of a sudden even bit of tension would disappear.

1.02.34 And then on the two weeks after that you could see the tension building up again. And obviously… so in one respect – we, we was actually offered not to have any scans at all, your choice. But we said we’d rather have the scans because they were saying if… the reason to have them is if anything, we see anything going wrong we might be able to get the other twin out early. So we wanted to try and do that, it put… you know, so we went to these scans and… So we got to know the team quite well, which isn’t nice to know a bereavement team quite well – but we got to know them quite well. But, yeah, the scans, we still talk about the scans because they were just such a bad… And then from… I know it sounds strange talking about a practical point of view – it’s difficult to talk about… but if you were, let’s say, working throughout all that, you’d be having one or two days off every two weeks, it’s quite… it’s all consuming, if you know what I mean? I mean, luckily we were in a situation I could do that and Aimee wasn’t working because if… you know, you could picture that having every couple of weeks to go in for nine months – every couple of weeks you’ve got to have maybe one day off and maybe another day because of stress and that – you know, it totally takes over your entire life, basically.

1.03.59 Yeah, so that was the pregnancy. But, we had a bit of a silver lining because we had another little baby, so we had little Daisy, who was born. And we had a c-section and she was fine, she was born – we had her like two weeks early – that was just because they just said we’d better bring her out two weeks early. And she was absolutely fine and she’s been great since. Just looking at the pregnancy again, we had a c-section, as I say. And this was a planned one. We’d never had a c-section before. But, we’d also had to discuss beforehand what would happen with the… the little baby at the c-section again. And we went down a similar thing as last time. So obviously Daisy came – they didn’t know which one would come out first – so Daisy came out first and then they… what had happened – without going into too much graphical thing that – because this little-un had passed away probably in the teen weeks, and then Aimee had had to carry on for another about 20 weeks, it turns out that what happens is that a bit of it gets reabsorbed into your body, so, it’s as if like… yeah, so the… it’s strange, as I say, they get kind of reabsorbed so they become part of the placenta, where they get reabsorbed into the placenta a bit. So they’re not very… you can’t really see like a formed baby. But me and the bereavement midwife went – and again… the same thing where I kind of just spent like about half an hour… it was difficult, as I say, to tell a very formed baby, but you could tell little bits of the features, and just had that bit of time… where again just… didn’t know if it was a boy or girl. And we chose not to kind of name this child because things happened very early and we were trying to focus on Daisy; so we chose not to name that child. But again we… I just gave her – him or her – a little kiss on the head and went through the same kind of things as last time, but we went for the, the hospital funeral this one.

1.06.40 Which was nice as well, to tell you the truth. And it was well done and similar kind of thing where… again, surprising how many people were there at the funeral. And they all – all the little-uns – had these little boxes which were all… It wasn’t the same church, but I remember it was a similar thing where they all were on the alter but instead of just being when it was Petal – one on its own – there must have been 20 or 30 of these little boxes, if you imagine, and obviously all the families. Some people had brought lots of people with them, again me and Aimee just went on our own. Oh no, or did we take Daisy? I think we took Daisy. I think we took Daisy because it would have been her twin and… We did take Daisy. And then while we were there we were worried whether we should have took Daisy, because obviously there were parents there who’d lost and… but because it was Daisy’s twin we wanted her to be there, but we felt… we felt bad that we’d took her, if you know what I mean? We didn’t think about that actually until we got there – which we should have done. But yeah… so yeah, it was a… it was a strange, strange time again, as I say, emotionally. Very, very happy – at the same time this real sadness as well… so… strange emotions; strange.

1.08.13 You mentioned that you’ve talked to the… your living children about Petal. Will you tell them about Daisy’s twin?

1.08.24 I think we will; I think we will. We’re dead open about it so, I have… we’ve mentioned it to them before but I think because we… I don’t know why but we just chose not to put a name on this child – I think it might have been because we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl… and they passed away a bit younger than Petal – so we’re really open about it with the kids and I’m sure we’ll talk about it more when they’re older… about you know what happened and all that. And hopefully, you know, they’ll… because we’ve kind of talked about Petal with them and they kind of look at it as a nice thing in a way – that Petal’s looking down on them now – they’ll probably look at this in the same way.

1.09.15 During the pregnancy with Daisy and her twin, tell me about parenting your other children. What was that like?

1.09.23 Okay. I think… It was a bit like, well for me I don’t think it changed much, to tell you the truth, because I kind of just kind of tried to – as I say, whether this is what all men do or whatever – tried to be like the man and kind of just keep things moving forward and work normally and… but… And Aimee was great throughout it all, but obviously, there were… as these days got closer to the scans each time, you could tell that she would become… not… just a bit more erratic, if you know what I mean? You know, not sleeping or… as I say, she’ll tell you about it, but she was like kind of up in the night kind of… And, I think, obviously, she still had the grief of Petal as well because it was so close, so it was everything mixed together. But, yeah, I can remember loads of times coming down stairs when I’d gone to bed and I’d come down at like one or two o clock and she’d be reading like things about what other mums had gone through, like, so still trying to come to terms with Petal as well and kind of reading stories about what other people had been through. In a way kind of found that comforting, but in a way it was really emotional for her as well, but felt like she needed to do it. But yeah, she was reading, I know there wasn’t lots of information out there, but she was trying to find information and trying read it and what other people had gone through.

1.11.04 There was also, there was like the bereavement team we were under, they ran this – I don’t know how often it was, it might have been every three or four months – but they ran like a little… days where you go and meet other people who’d been in that situation. So, we were doing that at the same time we were pregnant with the twins – and Daisy. So, it was, as I say, it was a just a very strange emotional time. And then obviously dealing with young kids, who were sometimes being little terrors, as they do at that age, I do think that looking back – at the time I probably didn’t see it – but looking back we probably let them get away with probably too much at that time because you realise how precious they am. And obviously you’re not on the ball as great as you should be – which is fine looking back; I mean we went though a lot.

1.12.11 And then, and I’ve noticed that since we’ve had Daisy you can see that everything’s become a lot more stable again, if you imagine – as stable as you can be with that many kids, but… a bit of stability where we’ve got back into a bit of a norm. And although, you know, we don’t probably, we don’t probably… well, we still talk about it all, all the time, but, you know, we don’t… we’re coping with it a bit better each, each year as the years go on – or each month as it goes on at the moment. But it has… it is a lot better. Having said… anything that you get totally over, but it’s something you learn to deal with – carry on with your life and deal with normal situations without it being constantly on the back of your mind.

1.13.01 Were you offered counselling and support?

1.13.07 I don’t think so actually, no. I don’t think I was, no. No, I’m trying to picture whether they offered it at all. And I don’t think they did; I don’t think they did, but obviously we knew that you could go and get counselling get… me being a GP, I know you could go to your GP and they could organise it. Actually that was a… sorry, jumping subject… that was a strange thing was… that because it’s such a… again, as I say, once you open the door it’s a world that you’ll find even some health professionals aren’t very clued in with that so, obviously Aimee… everything was mainly done by the bereavement nurses and that, while we were pregnant and that, but now and again we’d have to touch in with the other services, so go and see your GP and that. And they kind of didn’t understand one hundred percent what was going on. So there were for example… a silly example was the vitamin D, which is something simple you can buy over the counter, but obviously she needed it on prescription from her GP, on repeat. And the GP didn’t understand why they needed to be on this, so… Only little things like that, so then you’d have to go through the whole story again, if you imagine. Which wasn’t the GP’s fault it was just – as I say, I’m a GP – it’s such a specialised area.

1.14.38 But little things like, like that you notice the continuity of care that you had when you were in the specialised bit, where everyone knew and you didn’t really have to talk about what had happened unless you really wanted to. When then you get into the other bits of the NHS – although they just want to help – sometimes you need to re-explain it all again which becomes very difficult again. So yeah that was something.

1.15.05 But so I knew that you could… I knew from that respect you could have counselling, but I didn’t… I don’t think we got offered counselling in that… from that point of view. No. I don’t know about Aimee off the top of my head, I can’t remember whether they offered her counselling, I don’t think they offered… like they didn’t offer it officially, if you know what I mean.

1.15.22 Did you – knowing, knowing that it existed – did you choose to take it up at all?

1.15.27 Counselling, you mean? I didn’t no, no. I didn’t with the NHS, I did go to a bit of counselling, but this was after Daisy was born. I think I paid privately just for about five sessions. It was just… a lot of it was just to get things off your chest, if you know what I mean, that you just couldn’t talk… well, you can… talking sometimes to a stranger’s a bit easier than talking to your partner or something like that so. And I talked about it during that as well. So, yeah. So I had a, a bit of counselling. But ‘cause we’ve got good family and friends and that, even though we couldn’t… they didn’t know what to say, it felt like we had a good support network, so I didn’t feel like we needed… I didn’t feel like that. As I say, Aimee might say it differently.  And I know that she feels like she could do with, you know… because it hits you at different times. But yeah, so… I didn’t take up the NHS counselling, but I did pay privately just for a few sessions but then I felt like I’d reached that limit and I didn’t need anymore and I felt, I felt okay with things.

1.16.41 After Petal’s death – taking you back – how did you and Aimee grieve?

1.16.52 How did you grieve? How do you explain it? I think it was just a lot of time spent together really. We just spent a lot… I had time off work and we literally just spent a lot of time together, be that… going out to the shops or something like that or having a walk around – even though sometimes it was in a bit of a… bit of a blank, you know; just totally being brain dead and wandering around. You know… simple things like watching something just to take your mind off it, isn’t it? So I think we may have started watching like a series on telly and things like that and… like trying to be a bit practical about it. But obviously there was a lot of crying involved and… and we… like Petal’s ashes, we, we bought like this little metal heart because obviously there’s not much ashes in a little baby and we put the ashes in there and that was… Aimee’s had like this little keep box, keepsake box with all these little things so the blanket that she was in – that I mentioned and that – and we’ve got that still, we haven’t actually done anything with the ashes yet because Aimee’s so… a lot of the time I’d… sometimes I’d find Aimee in the bedroom crying with like this keepsake box next to her, with like her ashes in this little heart shape. And she hasn’t felt ready yet to kind of do anything with that.

1.18.34 But yeah I think… over time you just gradually, it happens a little bit less and a little bit less. But yeah, I don’t think there’s any… I know, I know it sounds strange because a little bit of knowledge is thing, so I know all the stages of grief – being a doctor and that. But they don’t happen how people say they happen. They all happen muggled up. They don’t happen in one, you know. You don’t go through one stage then the next, then into anger, then acceptance. They all muggle up so you’ll be angry one minute and then accepting the next minute and then maybe back to anger… and this and they’re all mixed up and everyone’s different and it all kind of just amalgamates into one, big bunch of emotions which gradually fade away gradually over time. That’s what I’ve noticed from… from the best I could explain it, I guess.

1.19.29 Tell me about how Petal has affected your life.

1.19.36 How has she affected our life? So, yeah, so as I say, it’s opened this kind of door to a world that we never saw. And since that, we obviously, Aimee and me try sometimes to go to a lot of these bereavement… just if other people want to talk about it. And for some reason it’s as if like once it’s happened to you, you see a load of other people, like you realise it has actually happened to more people than you’d expect. So all of a sudden, whether that’s always been there and you’ve ignored it, or whether these people that you have always known have never wanted to say it to you, or whether you’ve just totally blanked it out, but you start realising that actually it does happen more than you think. And literally, every now and again, you’ll be like, Aimee or me will say, oh they had a stillborn or whatever. And it’s like, really? As in like, it’s as if like other people feel like they can talk to you. It’s as if like… it sounds horrible, but you’ve joined like a club that other people then feel like they can only talk to you about it, whereas they couldn’t talk to you about it if you hadn’t been through it, if you know what I mean? Which is kind of like when I say that if you talk to family and that sometimes they don’t understand if they haven’t been through it. So it feels like you’re in a club – which is… it’s the wrong word for it… it’s not a club you want to be a member of… but it feels like you’re in a club and because of that people who’ve been in it will talk to you about it.

1.21.15 But also obviously with our kids, you realise how, how precious they are, because you realise sometimes things don’t always go as easy. And with Daisy as well… That’s when I come back to that kind of fate thing, as in we wouldn’t have actually had Daisy if Petal had been alright. So in my head it’s as if like she’s – not that I believe in it – but reincarnate. There’s like a spirit thing, something like meant to happen there. And I’ve got to admit from my work point of view… work point of view, I… I’m totally a lot more clued in with that side of it. And so, when I see women who are pregnant or anything like that I can, who are a little bit worried or anything like that, anxious, I know a little bit more what to say. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near what the bereavement midwives are like, but I know a bit more what to say. Yeah.

1.22.20 So yeah, it just makes your kind of thingy life, doesn’t it? Question it. And… and for someone who most things have gone as planned in life, because I’ve worked on them and gotten to that point… so something that goes… is totally out of your… that’s happened to ya, that’s totally out of your control… It’s kind of like a learning curve as well, isn’t it? And you take… you can take positives from it and negatives. The positives being like how family and friends or the loved ones, like Aimee and that, or your kids, all group together when you’re in a difficult situation. So that’s like a positive, so it brings you a bit closer to everyone. But obviously there’s negatives, but yeah… you can look at it… you know, glass half full, glass half empty. And if you look at it glass half full, it’s lovely that you have all these friends and that that do… and family members that literally are there at the snap of a… snap of your fingers and they’ll be there to support you – even if they don’t know the right things to say – which is… which is nice. Yeah.

1.23.26 Tell me how the experience has affected your relationship with Aimee.

1.23.33 I think we’re a lot closer. A lot closer now. Obviously when it first… when it happens, you… you’re still close, you’re sharing this thing that’s going on, but obviously your emotions are all over the place so you… as I say, like there can be that kind of anxiety or you might… when you’re grieving you might be at different points in the grieving. Actually, that’s actually quite important that is, because I did think, whether it was because I was more focused on trying to… the day to day practical things of keeping the family going like going to work and that. I don’t know whether I did, but it seemed like I moved through the grieving a bit quicker. And I remember we had a few little… a few little words now and again about how Aimee felt that I had got over it a bit too quick. And I wouldn’t say I was over it, maybe I wasn’t just crying every night or I wasn’t, you know, but… and I can understand it from her point of view because she’s thinking, does it not mean as much to me? But I don’t think that’s the thing. I just think men and women grieve differently. And so I felt like I’d got over it a bit quicker and was trying to move forward with life. And Aimee was still… So there was…so from that… so relationship-wise sometimes there was difficult… it does bring up difficult situations. But the fact that you can move through, past it, in the end, it makes you stronger. But at the time you feel like a weaker couple, but at the end it makes you stronger. But yeah, that’s important actually about how… how as in a relationship you can’t blame the other person if they feel like they’re going further – or they’re not getting over it, the other way as well. They’re not getting over it as quick. You can’t resent that they’re not getting over it. So that was something learned as well.

1.25.37 How do you remember Petal now?

1.25.44 So as I say, as a family, we pretty much will have a little chat every now and again – which probably happens a few times a week – just with circumstances and the kids saying, oh there’s… but like we was talking… The other night we were talking about the moon because I really enjoy… I used to… [laughs] one of my first degrees was physics. I love physics, so I was trying to talk to the kids about the moon and the stars. And I was like, there’s the North Star, I think to Matty, and he was like, oh, is that where Petal is? So she’s actually been entwined… because of how the kids are quite young anything up in the sky is pretty much linked with Petal. So if there’s a rainbow – it’s linked with Petal – or there’s you know there’s like a shape in the clouds that look like something – is linked with Petal. And loads of things… even, I know this sounds stupid, but little things like if there’s like a bird or something that’s dead on the road or something and we say they’ve gone to heaven. They say, oh is that with Petal looking after him? So she’s remembered loads – in that respect. And in my head, I remember just those little couple of hours I had with her, when, when Aimee was asleep and I just gave her a kiss on the head. So that’s how I remember her, from my point of view, so…

1.27.10 What do you think it’s important for people to know about the experience of a baby passing away or dying you know at that point in pregnancy?

1.27.28 I think… I don’t know if I can put it in… there’s loads, absolutely loads, isn’t there? There’s literally, as I say, there’s this opening up this new world where you’ve totally been obviously to. There’s the little things that I’ve tried to explain about like even the strange things like needing to take… some people do or some people don’t… like taking the medication that you need to take to bring on the pregnancy and… and what you might have to go through. But then the key things to take away from it I think, is that like, there’s no major right or wrong answers. Like I mentioned about that… you know, how Petal was like a few hours from being classed as a proper individual. And that’s like a bit of an arbitrary… arbitrary line really. And it’s how you think of her in your head really that matters the most.

1.28.33 And then the difficulty with the emotional side afterwards and I mentioned a bit about that, about the… it’s two people’s emotions, not just one. So people might be at different points and that and so just supporting each other and trying not to – although it will happen – trying not to shout at each other because you’re at different points. But it will happen; so don’t beat yourself up if it happens and… And there’s no right or wrong answers when it comes to post-mortems it’s just how you feel about it. And that, you know, some of the… you’ll be shocked how great people are – surprisingly how people are. Like all the NHS people were brilliant; the funeral directors were brilliant; the priest and all that was brilliant – saying that they should be brilliant, but yeah… Yeah, so kind of this kindness that gets linked with it – even though it’s an horrible thing – there’s so much like… oh, and all your family and friends are brilliant… so even though there’s this horrible thing, there’s so much, kind of, kindness from strangers all linked in with it. Because I think everyone feels bad or feels emotional for someone who’s lost a child. And I think that’s overwhelming. I think it’s an in-built thing that so you’ll be surprised how helpful people will be that you’ve never met before, who are not getting anything out of it – they just do it because they want to help you.

1.30.05 And the fact that you will get better. It just gets better with time. And that there’s no… there’s no specific trick or anything to get over… to get over you’ve lost. There’s no trick or there’s no way it will happen quicker. There’s no… it just happens how it happens and, and as I said, the emotions they’re all over the place and then they gradually get a bit easier and easier. But also that they… that loss, that’ll always be with you and… I think it’s good to kind of, as I say, there’s no right or wrong answer, but what’s really helped for us is like – with the kids – is to actually make them understand it and so they kind of grow up, like, as I said, saying things like, oh, there’s Petal in the moon or dah dee dah. So… yeah, so if I had to… those are my only tips, I guess. But it does just generally gets better.

1.31.04 What about for people who have no personal experience? What would you like them to know or understand?

1.31.18 Well, I think just if they was to listen to something like this they might understand it a little bit better but… I think, if just being there for someone… if someone else has been through it and you know that someone’s been through it and you’ve got no idea what to say – at all – just being there for them and… is, is a good thing, if you know what I mean? You don’t have to try and say the right thing because there’s no right thing to say and I don’t think it… And, as I said, like, my friends and family… looking back now we’re dead appreciative of what… that they were there. But at the time we were think, you know… oh, they didn’t know what to say and that or they were saying the wrong thing. But it is, it’s just one of those really difficult things to explain if you’ve not been through it. And if you haven’t been through it, I don’t know whether you’d totally understand it. But just the fact that you’re trying to understand it or trying to… trying to kind of get a grasp of what the people are going though or trying to help is actually, I think, good enough really – is what’s appreciated the most. But you don’t have to totally understand what they’re going through because I don’t think you can – and I don’t think you’d want to if you had a choice, you know what I mean?

1.32.40 Is there anything you feel particularly proud of or regret?

1.32.47 I think… there’s nothing that I regret… there’s nothing that I regret about it all. I think I did what I wanted to do. Like, for example, I held Petal for a bit. And I was there throughout everything; I went to all the scans with Aimee, before and after. I’m quite proud of quite a few things looking back. Number one, just having the strength to even like hold her – which sounds strange – hold your dead child in your arms is a massive strength, I think. And then the fact that, as I mentioned, if you’re trying to take out the positives the fact that you’ve held your family together and gone through these horrible times but you’ve still come out of it. And still then had, had like the courage then to try again – because it does take some courage because obviously, some people might in their minds think, I don’t ever want to go through that again. But there can be – I’m not saying there always is – but there can be like a bit of a… a thingy at the end of the rainbow: a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And I think if you… you’ve got to try and stay positive. And, I think, I’m quite happy that we did that – because it could have easily have just said, right, we don’t want to deal… do that again and that was so horrible we don’t want to go through it again. But I’m, I’m quite proud that we… we said we’d try – not, not knowing what the outcome would be, but that we’d try again. And now we’ve got, as I say, we’ve got Daisy.

1.34.28 So, yeah… proud, as I say, that the family’s still together, that me and Aimee are absolutely strong, and… And yeah, and that you kind of see that side of life. And, as I say, as I mentioned loads of times there’s positives and negatives with it and if you look at it from a positive point of view I’ve seen like… all the kind of joy – not the joy, sorry – how great just general public can be that you’ve never met before. So yeah, so… yeah. I’m proud of a lot of things. I’m not as… I personally have not… don’t regret any of the things, but yeah… I’m just proud of it all.

1.35.11 Is there anything else you’d like to say that you haven’t had an opportunity to?

1.35.19 Not really. Apart from thanking everybody. I don’t know if anyone’s hearing this who, as I say, who can remember who we are but… little things, just… As I keep mentioning, just everyone; all the family, all the friends, and the staff were brilliant in the NHS – and that’s not me being biased because I work in the NHS but it’s they… that was above and beyond what I’ve ever done in my career… [laughs] how great they were and… And then, as I say, even like people like the funeral directors and that.  They were absolutely great, and that. And people I’ll never meet again – hopefully – and I’ve never met them before but they just seemed to be great. I feel I’ve covered most of it, hopefully. Yeah, so, yeah… so I’m quite a happy person now. So although this has been about difficult things, as I say, I’m quite happy.  It hasn’t been long – it’s only been a few years – but I’m quite a happy chap now. And, as I say, I’ve got… I was lucky enough that we’ve had another child – even with difficult circumstances like being a twin and then losing one of them – but we’ve kind of pushed through it and… so, there’s a… It can turn out really nice for everyone – can – if you persevere.

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Baby Petal

Petal was born on 28th February 2015 at 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy.  In the UK, the definition of ‘stillborn’ is a baby born with no signs of life at 24 or more weeks of gestation. Had Petal been born one day later she would have been legally ‘stillborn’. She is officially classified as a ‘late miscarriage’ and was not eligible for a certificate of stillbirth. At the 20 week scan it was noticed that Petal was small for gestational age. Aimee and Marc were referred to a specialist Placenta Clinic. At their first appointment, they were told that Petal had no heartbeat.

Aimee and Marc’s story

Marc (38) a doctor and Aimee (34) a nurse met and began what Marc describes as ‘that typical doctor/nurse romance’ seven years ago, when Marc was training to be a GP at the hospital Aimee worked at in Manchester. The couple then moved to the West Midlands where Marc grew up. Their sons, Buddy and Mattie, were born in 2012 and 2013.

When they moved to Manchester in September 2014 Aimee was already pregnant with their third child. At the 20 week scan they were told that the baby was small for gestational age and referred to a specialist placenta clinic. At their first appointment they discovered that there was no heartbeat.

Petal was delivered on 28th February at 23 weeks and six days of pregnancy. In the UK, the definition of ‘stillborn’ is a baby born with no signs of life at 24 or more weeks of gestation. Had Petal been born one day later she would have been legally ‘stillborn’. She is officially classified as a ‘late miscarriage’ and was not eligible for a certificate of stillbirth. Aimee says that sometimes she feels that because they have no legal documentation for Petal ‘it’s like she didn’t exist to anyone else but us’.

Seven months later Aimee was pregnant again – this time with twins. At an 18 week scan the couple were told that one of their twins had died. Their second twin, Daisy was born alive on the 6th May 2016.

At the time of interview Daisy was nine months old.