Shauna’s full interview
0.00 I had a son in July… on July 24th 2015. His name was Micah. He was born sleeping. He weighted three, zero, four, zero grams. He was 47 centimetres long… Heartbreaking. Devastating – are some of the words I can think about when I… speak about this.
(off mic) I don’t know what to say…
0.34 What was your attitude to starting a family?
0.40 I already… I have a son from a previous marriage. He – at that time – was eight years old… seven years old sorry… so, I have always wanted children. Unfortunately, my previous relationship broke down and I was divorced so… that happened. I lived in the USA and I returned back to the UK… stayed single for a very long time because I was focussing on rebuilding my life back here… always with the mindset – because I’m from a big family – I’m the eighth child. My parents have been married forever… so, the eighth child out of nine. So I… didn’t want that much of, you know, a massive family but… I wanted say two to three children, so I was always open to having, you know… a, a, a few kids, so to speak. So, when I became pregnant, although the timing wasn’t right for me at the time because I was studying as a full time midwifery student, working sometimes part time, so it was quite hectic. So at the time I was like, oh, no. I’m pregnant. But then, you know, you become accepting of the situation and I was happy and looking forward to the birth of my son.
2.06 Can you tell me about your pregnancy?
2.09 I had a pretty normal pregnancy up until… so, first trimester was quite easy going. I wasn’t… I was sick a little bit, but not that much – in comparison to the first pregnancy – so, throughout the first trimester I was thinking, yes. I’m going to have a girl. It’s a girl; definitely a girl – as I already had a boy. Then the second trimester started. It was… pretty stressful because I had exams, I had clinical placement, and… at the time my ex-partner and I were going through a little bit of… I’d refer to as a rough patch. By 24 weeks, unfortunately by then, the relationship broke down and I moved out of our property.
2.56 And… by… so, I was pretty much on our… on my own. So, it was quite stressful. So, moved out, still having exams, clinical placement, I had a son to look after, I was pregnant, so by 28 weeks I went in to… for my usual checkup. I was given a referral to the hospital because there was a high count of glucose in my… sugar… in my urine. And then I was diagnosed officially with gestational diabetes. Which I found out isn’t very uncommon within the Afro-Caribbean community – based on our diet of course – and, you know, all the changes within pregnancy. So, then that became, you know, my focus: being on a proper diet, trying to stay healthy while being busy – which is… it’s quite difficult at times, to be honest.
3.55 So, by… I was on… I remember, I was on placement… at the hospital where I’m based – because I’m a midwifery student – and I was on the postnatal ward and I kept urinating. And, I thought, my blood sugar shouldn’t be high because I didn’t really eat that much. And then I realised the protein level was quite high.
4.14 I was about thirty… thirty-one weeks pregnant by then. The protein was really, really high – it was like plus 3 – so I went and I spoke to the S… an SHO that was on duty. And I was like, I don’t know what it is but my protein level is quite high. And then she suggested, oh, we could do some bloods – because it was, you know, it was quiet and stuff – so, we did some bloods and sent it off to the lab and it… it came… it came back that my… basically like, my protein level was really high. So, she was so concerned, she sent me up to the antenatal clinic. So, I went straight there, after which… after which… it was suggested that I stayed in for monitoring. So, I had to go home even though… so I was on duty – weirdly enough – and then I ended up going home to get my bags packed and come back to the hospital.
5.11 So after that… all the tests – they ran quite a few tests; I stayed in for a couple of days. They did the overnight urine samples, etcetera… and the… my protein levels was really, really high, but there was no indication as to why. I didn’t have headaches, my blood pressure was pretty normal, my diabetes was under control… so it was a bit of a mystery. So, based on the fact that it was a mystery, they suggested I could go home. Well, I was adamant, like, you know, I was sat in the hospital doing nothing… and sometimes I think back, maybe I should have stayed in because they were monitoring me every couple of hours with a CTG machine which would monitor the baby’s heartbeat; if there is any changes, the trace would show it, etcetera.
6.02 One consultant I remember coming to see me, ‘cause they… I’m familiar with them because I’ve trained around them. He suggested that I stayed in until I had the baby but… approx… about… the other consultants or doctors that came said they didn’t see the necessity. And I was like… I wanted to go home because it wasn’t nice sitting in a hospital constantly and… you know, people who… well, I thought people were actually sick that needed to be here and needed the bed; that’s how I was thinking, even… even though now, looking back, I’m thinking, maybe… I should have stayed in. And I beat myself up about that all the time – in regards to staying in. However, I went home. And, based on the fact that I was hospitalised for so long, the university – because I’m a university… I was studying, of course – they suggested I took early maternity leave. So, I went back for a few weeks, just to finish assignments etcetera, and then I took the time off until… I… gave birth.
7.10 You tell me… you’ve told me a little bit about the antenatal care you received – was it… were there, were there any other aspects that you’d like to tell me about?
7.22 Um… in regard to my… in regards to my antenatal care I’ve thought about everything; did I miss any appointments? No, I did not. Did I think the care I received was good? Absolutely. I started off with another hospital… based on where I lived at the, at the time and then I switched to the team I was working with because they had a case-loading team, which means you got one… you got one-to-one care… more for one-to-one care throughout your pregnancy – opposed to just the one-to-one care when you deliver and… All the diagnosis of the diabetes etcetera happened within that team – which I thought unfortunately I brought them all the… all the troubles, you know, so to speak. But the care that I received from that team was absolutely fantastic. They followed up… Because I was working in the clinic a lot, they… I was monitored very closely. And, I think, the pregnancy for them felt personal, so to speak. So, yeah, pretty much that’s it.
8.31 You were a student midwife, but what did you know about stillbirth at that time?
8.37 Weird enough, we had… we had a lecture not very long – like when I was 20… maybe about 24… 23, 24 weeks pregnant – I remember we were studying about the different causes of stillbirths and we spoke about gestational diabetes. All the different factors that could affect, you know, someone having… a baby that’s asleep, so to speak. And, it’s weird, like I didn’t… you know, you study it, you think about it, but you don’t think about it, so, you know? I only read it, studied it because… I had to – it’s a part of the course. And I’ve never had anyone that, I’ve never – well, not that I know of – been in contact or know anyone who’s actually experienced a stillbirth. Although within my culture, I think it’s not spoken about, so if it’s happened… now that I’ve had a stillbirth there’s so many people that said, well, actually this has happened to me, or that has happened to me. But it’s not discussed.
9.47 So, I didn’t really think about it much, even though I’ve… I learned about it and learned about the effects that gestational diabetes… it’s a possibility that it may happen, but working within the hospital that I work in, with the high numbers of African and Afro-Caribbean clients that we have, you come across gestational diabetes so often, it’s like the norm. It’s like something that is just dealt with. The babies are born – sometimes, you know, they have big babies – but the babies are fit and healthy, and you treat them, it goes away and, you know, it’s just like… I wouldn’t have expected anything like that to happen to me, even though I was pregnant sitting in the lecture – at the time I was not diagnosed – or even when I was diagnosed, I’d never thought, there’s a possibility that this might not end the way I want it to end, you know? So, yeah…
10.49 Can you tell me, when did you realise that something was wrong?
10.58 I didn’t really… think anything was wrong until I was at the hospital and they couldn’t… after listening to… so, let me give you a brief summary as to what happened. So, the night before, I actually… the baby was moving so much; he was moving so much because I ate something. I ate really late – you know when you wake up and you’re thinking, oh, my god. I’m so hungry. So I went and I, I had something to eat – and the baby was so… moving so much that I took my phone up and recorded my stomach with the baby moving and my son was like playing with my belly; poking my belly and the baby was kicking him; putting his face close to the belly and he’s like the baby… he… because our thing was, if I wanted my son to move… if I wanted the baby to move… I keep… my son… the baby to move, I’d call my other son to say, come and talk to your brother. And as soon as… my older son came across to speak or… the baby would go crazy in terms of kicking him or you… he can lay his head on my stomach and the baby would respond basically.
12.09 So, we recorded that, so… And then in the morning, I have a sonic aid – it’s a part of my training, so I have some of the equipment – and I… it’s… out of habit, I tend to – maybe it’s not a good habit – but I listen in to the baby and everything was fine, I didn’t hear anything abnormal, to my knowledge, and… however, I was having a little bit of tightening, a little bit of tightening, so I thought I’d ring the, the ladies on the team just to say, you know, I’m having a little bit of tightening. Because I was hoping to go into… into labour naturally, so on the, the, the 24th I actually had a sweep planned – that is when they insert their fingers and kind of massage the membrane to stimulate – it’s believed that it stimulates labour.
12.57 So I had that booked in. So they said, okay, come in. And I was thinking, I was passing urine quite a lot – even though I’m diabetic throughout the pregnancy, which it happens you can urinate quite a lot – but it was a lot. So, because with my first son, he… I went into labour, he was… it was 36 weeks and four days… and the way he… I went into labour, I didn’t have the big gush, I had, I kept saying why do I keep weeing? And that was the, the fluid coming down, so I thought it was probably similar. And I know there’s a possibility I would have gone into labour a little bit early based on my, my condition.
13.42 Also, just to, to, to say, the consultant I had throughout my… my obstetric consultant throughout my pregnancy, I didn’t really – I saw her twice, which is not abnormal – she had my induction booked for the 19th of July, however she changed it because she was going to be away and it was not convenient for… then for me to have the, the induction, so she actually changed it to the following, the following week, I think it was. So, I had the baby on the 24th – so it would have been the 27th I think she changed it to – but then between that time I would have gone in for sweeps, just to see whether or not I would go into labour. And I also was under the diabetic consultant, so I saw them quite regularly, in terms of the care, because I was seeing them every week to… every two weeks sometimes… I’ve lost my train of thought.
14.50 So, tell me about… you said you were going in for your sweep and that’s where you were at.
14.56 Yes, so, I went in for my… for my sweep. The midwife listened in with the sonic aid. There was a heartbeat, so she went off to get a CTG machine – because the baby has to be monitored before you actually carry out the sweet, the sweep. So I went off to talk to my colleagues, you know, everybody going crazy about the baby, the baby’s going to be here soon etcetera. Then we went back into the room, she came with the CTG machine, and I knew the position of the baby, I knew where you’d pick the heartbeat up, etcetera, because going into clinics all the time, and me monitoring it myself, I’m aware of the position – the lie of the baby – because this is what I’m training to do.
15.35 She came in. I lay down. She hooked up the machine and… she didn’t even put the straps on, she was just finding… trying to find the heartbeat to know when she puts the strap on, she just attaches it and that’s it, so the monitoring maybe… could begin. So she, I laid there and she took the… sorry… She put the… the monitor on and there was… where it’s supposed… she goes, oh, where’s the heartbeat? So she puts on one side and I said, no, definitely not. He’s on the other side. And she put the, put the machine on and… there was nothing. And I remember my heart just… sinking.
16.26 It so happened that on that day going to the hospital I had actually called my ex-partner to take me because I… you know, because of the fact that I was having tightenings and stuff – just in case. And, of course, being prepared, I popped my hospital bag in just in case they wanted me to stay in. I don’t know why I did it, but that’s what I did and… and… I remember the midwife… I remember the look on her face – ‘cause she was trying to be neutral, but because she knew me, she knew the pregnancy, it was her baby also – I could see the kind of devastation and I could see that she was probably shaking.
17.10 She went… she said – because they have to get a second opinion – so she went out to get another midwife who came in. And she was an older, more mature midwife – really experienced, been a midwife for years. She, you know, palpated – that means feel around to see the position of the baby so she can determine where to get the heartbeat – of course, I… by then I knew that… he had passed away because, I don’t know, I just knew. I didn’t really need another confirmation or anything, I just knew. So they tried again and they then… I remember the first midwife saying oh, it must… these machines tend to not work properly. Let’s try again. And they came in with another sonic aid, they changed the CTG machine and I was like, there’s… what’s the point? There’s no point.
17.59 Luckily the scanning room was just next door. And don’t forget, I’m in antenatal clinic – that’s where I came to do the sweep – so it was filled with pregnant women, all waiting. And, it’s weird enough, in my head I was thinking, I don’t want to upset the other pregnant women because I don’t want them to think their babies will die too. And I had to walk through the room with them all looking at me. And, I think for some reason in my head I’m thinking, oh, my god. They must know that my baby’s dead. And they’re going to think that their babies will be dead too. So I didn’t want to cry or scream, but although in my head I was screaming, I… externally I probably was a bit numb.
18.45 Went into the, the room, the scanning room and the doctor that was there – he was so excited to see me because he hadn’t seen me for a while – he knew I was pregnant but when he saw me the last time I probably wasn’t showing as much. And he was like, oh, my god. How are you? Oh, you need a scanning room. And… and he… well, the midwife said… oh, we just need to… Can you do the scan for us? Because, ‘cause he just assumed she wanted to just do a scan for me to look at the baby… and then she explained what… you know, if they, he could do the scan and what she suspected. You know, she didn’t get the… just explained the facts: she is trying to get the heartbeat, she can’t get the heartbeat, etcetera.
19.36 And, I remember he greeted me so warmly and I just didn’t know how to react. Anything that just burst the whole, you know… I was just… I don’t know… He did the scan, I did… I couldn’t look at it because I knew there was, there was… nothing. Sorry… He moved the, the machine around. He’s saying, oh, maybe, maybe you’re laying on the wrong side. Go on the left side. I think he was just trying to… I don’t know. He didn’t want to tell me what happened, or to confirm it, because I suppose it wasn’t his place. The consultant would have had to come in and look ‘cause he was a, a registrar or a SHO. So he stayed there for a while, just trying to find something, you know. And… I just, I just… It’s just like a big blur. I was numb. I screamed – at one point I remember… just screaming and saying, you know, just talking… placing blame… I remember the midwives all hugging me and crying because they’re all, they were… I work there, they see me everyday. Then they went off to get the consultant.
21.07 She was a lady I’d never seen before, to be honest. I’ve never worked with her or been around her. And she walked in and she… I remember she walked in, I don’t even remember if she said, hello. It didn’t register with me. And she took the scanning machine and did the scan – prodded and poked – did the scan, and she said yep, he’s dead. And that’s something that, that’s… and I think that’s when I literally broke down. And that stands out to me because of the way she broke the news and how she said it – she was all nonchalant, it was just not a big deal. Another baby that’s dead. What’s the big deal?
21.49 And she said, you can decide to go home… you can go home for about three to four days. And all the… everybody in the room was looking at her horrified. And I remember just saying, no. No, I’m having him. I’ve come in to have him and I’m going to have him. And then she left the room. Then she came in and she realised the reaction of everybody else… and realised. She was like, oh, I didn’t realise you were like, you know, you worked here. I’m so sorry. So her attitude kind of changed and I’m thinking, why? I’m a mother. You know what I mean? I’m a client and this is how… I didn’t feel, in my head I was… upset… it’s really weird because, I remember this, I was upset – like how dare you just say that. You know what I mean? But then I was so upset I couldn’t even dwell on that. And I was adamant I wasn’t going home. I was… I came to have the baby and I’m going to have the baby.
22.39 Then I was led through to the, to the birthing area. And they have a special room for people who are going to give birth… and their baby, it’s a stillbirth. And I remember being a normal student and going into the room and where they’ll tell you, oh, no, no, no. Don’t go up that side because, you know, somebody’s there and they’ve, they have to deliver. Or I’d go in or… the only reason I’d go in that room is to take water in, you know? And then I’m going to be in that room. And it’s just like… I suppose, I can’t make a comparison to somebody walking down death row, but it kind of felt like that and they felt… they took me around the back because they didn’t want to walk me through to the one area because they… I was thinking I don’t want anybody to start asking me why am I going up there?
23.32 Of course, that… it spread like wildfire that I was there. People kept coming in the room, which was nice but then again I don’t know, I don’t know. I… now I think about it, I appreciated everybody’s concern, but I just felt like I wanted to disappear. You know? I wanted… I just wanted not to be there. And when people came in, you know, saying how sorry they, they all was and stuff, I just… yeah, I said, yeah, thank you. You know, they said all the right words, but I just didn’t want to… be present, you know. It was like somebody else and this wasn’t happening, happening at all.
24.14 I remember my sister, because we had planned previously for [name of eldest son removed] to go away with her… for that. They were going away for a couple of days to a holiday park and she came in with [name of eldest son removed], for him to say goodbye, but I didn’t tell [name of eldest son removed]. I didn’t know if I wanted him to know. I, I didn’t know how to deal with him and deal with the death of Micah at the same time. I didn’t know… should I get him involved straight away? Should I let him see him or…? And even now, I question did I make the right decision? The decision I made, I said let him go away. Let him have fun for the weekend – I didn’t want him to think about… going away on a holiday thinking that his brother is dead. So I thought, even when he came… when my sister brought him to the hospital, I was a little bit upset, because I’m thinking, I’ll have to pretend now like everything is good. And I needed to… I wanted to make that decision. But she didn’t have a choice, because she wanted to see me – and she knew what happened. So she came in. I didn’t want to…
25.21 I had to dry my tears, put on a brave face, plaster a smile on my face. And [name of eldest son removed] came with his little tablet making a recording going, okay, this is my mum and when I come back from my holiday… I’m going to have… I’m going to be a big brother. So he made that recording and while he was making it I just wanted to break down. I just wanted to… I don’t know… make it all better. And still in my head – because I do have a… I grew up with a very strong faith – and I was thinking, when I spoke to my sister on the phone, before she got to the hospital, she kept saying, oh, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, anything is possible. And, I knew that wasn’t… of course, that wasn’t going to happen. But, you know, any glimmer of hope you’re thinking… the baby… ‘cause I was having small tightenings, so I was thinking, oh, my god, it could be the baby moving. Even though I knew the movement felt totally different from the tightenings.
26.28 So, when she came in and she whispered to me, don’t give up. Keep praying, you know, this might be a miracle. I was like – in the back of my head – going what if it’s a miracle? Oh, my god, can you imagine if it’s a miracle? And then they left and then I went through the process of the induction. I had a really bad reaction to the Propess, so that had to be removed. I had terrible experience with the… trainee doctor coming in to… and she couldn’t find my cervix. I had to be giving her instructions as to where my cervix was and how she should position her hand. And I thought that was something I didn’t really need at that time.
27.10 I went into like control mode, like, okay, this is what I want, I don’t want… because they offered… do you want to have a epidural? I said, no. I just felt like I had to bear the pain to… to say that he was here. I don’t know, to feel like I did something. Even though I wasn’t bringing him into the world alive, I just felt like I had to go through with the pain… Throughout the labour it felt quite normal. It’s like I felt like I was going to have a baby that was alive. I kind of thought… I had really good support in terms of two of my friends came in and – they just rang by coincidence and I said I was at the hospital – they came and they decided to stay the, the whole night. So throughout the labour the midwife I had was absolutely amazing. It’s coincidental that she was the one, she was the first person I told that I was pregnant; she was my main mentor. She was the first person I told I was pregnant, and even before I got transferred to the particular team that I was with – the, the case-loading team – and she was the one that had suggested me… since I was there everyday working, why not just transfer to, to the team and it’s just a coincidence… and she had said when I told her, she said, oh, I’ve got to be the god… the baby’s godmother. And it’s just coincidence that she was the one who did, did the delivery.
28.38 So the team was absolutely amazing, they took care of me as if they were taking care of themselves, you know? Giving birth was… when, at each… when they said push, I was like, what’s the point because I’m going to be getting rid of my baby? He’s not going to be with me anymore. I wanted to keep him, if that makes sense? It’s really, really weird, so… It’s really, really weird how I felt, it’s like I didn’t want to push him out, but I knew I had to, you know?
29.13 And then, in the back of my head I’m thinking… at the highest point of labour, the, the, the, say, you know, when I’m feeling… when the baby has moved down… because it took some time, but in comparison to some labouring women it wasn’t that long really. I was thinking why haven’t they got the resuscitaire here – which is the machine just in case they could resuscitate him – and I was like getting really worked up thinking, why don’t you have the resuscitaire? I said it to the midwife, I think, why don’t you have the resuscitaire? And she… I think she said to me and she said to me, don’t worry, I’ll have it outside. Just for me to calm down, which I thought was really quick thinking for her because I was getting really worked up about it – even though I knew that he wasn’t alive. And… I remember saying what’s the point in feeling all this pain and…? I’m not going to get anything at the end of it. But I did get something, I suppose, you know?
30.16 And… I gave birth to him. I insisted on checking my own placenta, she humoured me, I suppose. And I thought the placenta looks good… ‘cause we have… as students that’s what we do, we check the placentas. Most of the time the midwife sends us off to check the placentas. And I think there was a little bit of, you know, fibrin or a little bit of build up – but that’s normal because I’ve been taking insulin, but I can’t see anything. The cord wasn’t around his neck. I remember thinking the cord’s not around his neck and I remember him coming out and me automatically going down just to see if he’s breathing… and I’m like the miracle didn’t happen, you know, it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen to me, Jesus may have raised Lazarus but he didn’t for me, so…
31.09 After that I think everything was pretty much a blur, there are so many decisions to be made and they come to you, you’re not in the frame of mind to even do anything, to be honest. I remember they asking me if I wanted to stay for a few days in the hospital and I’m thinking what for? I was just holding him, you know, because I knew this was my only chance to hold him. I was smelling him, thinking he doesn’t smell dead, but then I looked at his skin and you could see it was papery, you know. He had some of the skin slipping off and I’m like how long did that take? You know?
31.50 And, I felt like in a way I was… The midwives were like, no, no, hold him as long as you want. We can go wash him and get him dressed; make him nice and clean for you and take him back to you. So, I felt like I didn’t want to let go, because letting go means I’ll never see him again. The midwife that took him to get him cleaned up and dressed, she said… I remember her whispering to me – because there were people in the room – and she came to me and she whispered, she said, Suki, I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to handle him so tenderly, just as how you would have washed him and handled him. And, and I’ll never forget that. Because that was one of the sweetest things, you know. And then when I, when he came back he was all… she went… she didn’t even ask me, she went ahead got clothes for him – that matched – and she went and he came back all lovely. He just looked as though he was sleeping, you know?
32.51 And then of course his colouring started changing and, and all that, so reality set in; he wasn’t alive. I remember holding him to my breast thinking, I’ve read where premature babies who are dying, their mothers hold them so close and then they revive and all… I don’t know, that’s all I was thinking, yeah, so…
33.18 It was hard, it’s… and I know it’s cliché me saying it’s hard – the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. And I decided to leave the hospital; I chose to. The lady that, the bereavement midwife… everybody said how brilliant she was etcetera, etcetera… but she was so busy, I’m not quite sure what she was doing, but, so she… I didn’t really see her much, but the team I had – the midwives I had – were really good from the case-loading team, so they did a lot of the things I suppose she would have done.
33.54 I had to wait around for quite a… I was supposed to leave the hospital but I had to wait around for quite a few hours before she came to talk to me, but when she came to talk to me it was just loads of information, and honestly, I don’t even know what she said – most of it. I remember they asking me, they kept asking me… because I remember the doctor that came in that was a student and I’m thinking, oh, I’m a student I should really allow her in. But they asked me if I wanted a student to come in. And then they asked me later on if they… when the bereavement midwife came in, if I wanted anther student midwife to come in. The student midwife was not in my cohort but in the cohort behind me and I… I felt like I had to say yes, because I’m also a student. And deep down I don’t think I wanted to say yes, but I did say yes.
34.48 The consultant – the diabetic consultant – it wasn’t her duty to come in, she didn’t have to come in, but she heard and she came in. And she was devastated – you could see it – and she was so… lovely, you know? And these are the things I remember; she was so, so lovely. The day I was supposed… the same time, the day I had Micah, the, the obstetric consultant, she came in, she was cold – I don’t even think she said sorry for your loss. She came, she took my notes, she didn’t really say much, and, I don’t know what she said, and left, but I just felt she was distant, she… it… she wasn’t bothered. That’s how I felt about that.
35.33 The bereavement midwife came in, she’s someone I’ve seen around the hospital, said hello to, but she was… she had her… hat on, her work hat on – which is fine – but you could tell this is something she’s been dealing… she was a bereavement midwife there for years, this is something she dealt with all the time. She was retiring in the next couple of weeks, and I kind of felt like, this is just her job. And, I don’t know, it was her job, but I don’t know if I wanted to feel like it was just her job.
36.04 I was just given loads of leaflets. If you go home and you have any problems, if you feel stressed, call this number. And that was pretty much it. And I remember leaving the hospital in the… in the lift. I saw somebody going, you know, because it’s from the maternity ward… people in the lift, maybe about there were three new mothers in the lift with their babies in their carry cot, and there I was with nothing. And I remember wanting to just… sink, disappear… just disappear, to be honest. I felt so empty, so, so empty. I came in with my baby and I’m going out with nothing And the… the hardest thing is, was leaving him there. I felt like I wanted to take him – yes, he’s dead. And I know he’s dead, but I wanted to take him home with me. I didn’t want to… or stay wherever he’s going to be. I didn’t want to leave him, ‘cause I felt I was doing, and I felt… it’s really silly, probably, but I felt really guilty leaving him at the hospital. You know, so. That was really, really hard. Hard – the hard, hard, hard… walking away. Yeah.
37.25 Can I just take you back into the hospital? Can you tell me, were you… were you given an opportunity to take photographs, do footprints, things like that? Can you tell me about that?
37.38 Yes, definitely, I… the midwife that washed the baby and dressed the baby… I got lovely handprints. I remember her saying, oh, I did the first set, I hope you don’t mind. She came to tell me, I did the first set, but they weren’t very good, so is it okay for me to do some more even though… she basically made me choose: do you want me to dip his, his little hands and feet in more ink… just to get a few. And I said, absolutely. She… The pictures I got from the hospital was absolutely lovely. The team, the team of midwives, they ensured I had him in a really beautiful basket, he was dressed, you know, immaculately, I got to wrap him in his blanket and… actually she gave me the opportunity to, to dress him. I remember now – it’s just all flashing back – because everything happened so quickly, she… I, I got the opportunity to put his clothes on – she washed him, wrapped him and brought him to me – ‘cause I wanted to do that for him and I got… I remember she… I got the opportunity to do that. Then she took him away and did all the lovely pictures and handprints. So it was… I think I was lucky in that sense, you know.
38.55 How do you feel about that time now looking back?
38.59 How do I feel about that time? In terms of the care I received, I think I had fantastic… a fantastic team looking after me. Looking back… you know, obviously it was, it was tough. But overall, overall it was a good experience in terms of the care, so to speak… It was mixed, I suppose, because, you know… but the good outweighed the bad in that sense.
39.37 Do you remember being offered a post-mortem?
39.41 I actually… I remember I actually thought… I actually requested that. But then I remember the midwife – the bereavement midwife – saying, yes, that would have been an, an option, you know, she went through, because she had a list that she was going through, but I… And there were two different types of post-mortem where there is a general one and then there’s a more, you know, in depth one, so to speak and I request… because I was like, I just wanted to know what happened, because… how it happened so quickly just didn’t make sense to me. You know, so, I was looking for answers, yeah… so, I was offered, definitely, I was offered a post-mortem.
40.24 And what did you decide?
40.26 I decided to have the full, in depth post-mortem because I really wanted to know what happened, because I felt like it just happened so quickly and didn’t make sense what happened. I needed answers and I think, I suppose, in some way, to offer me closure? I don’t know. Possibly.
40.46 And were you offered any other medicine or medication before leaving the hospital?
40.51 I was offered the hormone to stop my milk coming in, so I was given that, so… I was given the tablets to take and it was supposed to dry my, my milk up. Of course, for me, it didn’t work. So I remember coming home and… everything, I was just… I was just totally numb. I would have… my, my ex-partner was going to leave and I, I just felt like I didn’t want to be on my own. And at the time – because I’d moved out of the property – I’d temporarily moved into a, a place where it was like a shared front door, shared property, so to speak, and I had a really horrible altercation with the lady, a lady that lived upstairs – because it was like two in the morning, or three in the morning, I remember, and it was so noisy. And I remember, I was aching all over, had a headache, so I went and I knocked. And maybe I was emotional – or maybe I should have just mind my own business and stayed in – and I knocked on the door and the woman answered the door, it was… looked me up and down as if I was a little, you know… a piece of dirt on her shoe, and I said, is it possible for you to keep the noise down? She goes, oh, you think you’re better than everyone. Look at you, you fat, etcetera, etcetera. And I’m thinking, I just had a baby, I only just had a baby… that’s what I was thinking. And I just remember looking at her and saying, my baby just died. That’s all I said, and she slammed the door in my face. And then I went in… that’s all I said. I’ll never forget that. Yeah. I felt alone; I felt empty; then I was called fat the same day, you know, the same day I came out of the hospital. It was horrible and I felt like I didn’t have that emotional support, because I just felt alone. Yeah…
42.56 Can you tell me a little bit more about those first few weeks back at home?
43.04 So… it was hard because… I think I kind of had a little bit of a mental breakdown because my friends, people kept ringing me. I remember my friend came down – like my closest friend – she came down because she, she rang and I wasn’t answering my phone so she turned up – because I was on my own. And I, I took ages and I let her in, I remember letting her in, but I think she thought I was going to do something like, probably she thought I was suicidal, I don’t know. Because like I kind of felt like she, she was so nervous to leave me alone, she would follow me to the kitchen, follow me to the bathroom because I think I may have looked like – speaking to her now, she said I looked totally spaced out. I didn’t seem like myself and…
43.57 I remember it was like day two being home and – that’s after she, the day she came – and I just felt like I was suffocating. And I kept saying to her, I’m fine. Just go home. But she’s saying, no, no. I’ve got work tomorrow, but I’m going to ring Daryl – who is my other best friend. And she… she rang him and I was so annoyed. I’m thinking, I just want to be on my own. And I know it’s horrible, and they had their… they had my best interests at heart, and I remember just putting on my shoes – I think I was still in my pyjamas – and just walking to the train station. And the barrier that was open, but that lady that was on the barrier, I remember her looking at me weird… like Gemma must have gone to the toilet or something, and I thought this was my chance I’m just going to get away. And I just wanted to get away. I’m thinking I just want to run. That’s how I felt.
44.51 And I remember going to the train station and thinking… I got up onto the platform – and thinking about this kind of breaks my heart because it feels like it was somebody else – got to the platform and I was just sat there thinking I haven’t got a ticket, I’m in my pyjamas, it’s… you know, what am I doing? And then I was just sat there. I think Gemma must have, she must have been looking for me. I left my phone. I didn’t have anything and then when I looked I saw Daryl coming up the platform and I’m thinking, oh, my god, they found me. [laughs] I’m not sure where I was running to but I just wanted, I felt like I couldn’t breathe; I felt I was suffocating. You know, I don’t know, I just wanted to run; run away from it all and then when I came back it would all be perfect and, you know, nothing would be wrong, I don’t know. So, I think that was my little, my little breaking point I came to.
45.50 They came and I remember him just sitting… ‘cause he’s not a talker, he’s my best, best friend, the first person I met when I came up from – ‘cause I’m from Jamaica originally. And he just came and sat next to me. He didn’t say anything; he just sat there. And I remember just breaking down, you know? And he was crying as well and but he was just holding me and I think that’s what I needed, you know? It’s hard but I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. I remember the feeling like I was drowning, that’s what I felt like.
46.26 Then… maybe on day three, I went to the shower, went to have a bath and – still on my own – my son was still away with my sister. I was also worried about break… telling him what happened ‘cause he’s going to come in excited. I know my sister wouldn’t have told him because she knew that was my place to tell him – and I know it must have been difficult for her as well to be, you know, because he was so chatty and excited about being a big brother.
46.58 Day three? Day three or four, went into the shower… because I kept wearing tight bras – well, all my bras were tight, the state of my breasts, really. Went into the bathroom and took my clothes off and my breasts – they were a bit sore and heavy and they just started… the milk just flew out. It was just like, like a burst dam. Honestly, even with my first son, I… my milk didn’t come in that much. It was so much, and I just remember sitting down in the empty bath and just crying, just crying… like sitting there. I don’t know how long I sat there for, but I sat there maybe – it could have been a couple hours – but I just sat there crying like, why did this have to happen to me, you know? Why? And it’s just going through the, the day-to-day motions, looking at your body knowing that… I felt like, I… why wasn’t I worthy to take my son home, you know? All these things got happening to my body and I have nothing to show for it. I have no baby to show for it. And that was pretty… I stayed in, didn’t feel like eating much at the time. Just, just wanted to, to disappear, basically.
48.29 Then when my son came that was really hard. I had to sit him down, because he came in and he was so excited, he rushed through the door, you know, in front of my sister, rushed through the door and went into the room where I had all the cot and everything set up, he went… I could hear him going in there and then racing back out and then come in. And I was like, hi, like you know… you know, how was your trip? And he, he wasn’t interested. He hugged me, yes. He goes, where’s my brother? And, I had to say, okay, we need to talk.
49.07 And… I had to say to him – I don’t even remember the words I was thinking – I had to say to him, you know, we talk… we… because we, we have a faith and, I might not actively go to church but I teach my son to pray, and there’s heaven, and, you know, where angels are, and I said, well, Micah… Micah is now an angel, I think… He, he, he… and he looked at me all confused like with a smile on his face, but then it clicked like, an angel? And I’d never heard that… I’ll never forget that scream, that he… because my son is quite… he’s very quiet and laid back – and the scream was from the bottom of his belly and he screamed and he, he was just saying, no! No! Why? Why did God have to take him? Why did God have to take him?
50.00 I’m an only… It’s only me; I wanted a brother. Why did God have to take him? And he kept saying that over… and he said all the extra chores I had to do; I had to help you to bend down to do your shoes because you couldn’t do it. And he was just distraught and I just… I, I was trying… I was thinking… I don’t know, I was just… I was crying, I was hugging him, I was trying to restrain him because he was jumping up, I didn’t know, you know…
50.27 And he kept ask… you know, crying and crying and I said to him, you know, sometimes people are here for a reason. You know, we had him for a little while, and I had to give him that talk… now he’s in heaven and he’s going to be watching over you, and you’ll always have a brother, and, you know, maybe we’ll do something, you know what I mean? And, for me, I’m thinking, I don’t know if I did the right thing, in he didn’t get to see Micah because he was away.
51.00 And… now that I’ve spoken to him, I remember like a few, few months or weeks – because we were contemplating… I was contemplating, whether he wanted to go to the… I wanted to give him the option if he wanted to go to the funeral and… he, he… he didn’t want to at first because what he said to me – which was really strange for a child that young. At the time he was what, seven? – I don’t want to see him dead or think about him dead. So, in a way I think probably I made the right decision, you know, but was it because he didn’t get the opportunity to see him why he said that? But he said he didn’t want to see him dead. So, for a while he didn’t want to go to the funeral.
51.48 The funeral process was hard because we had to go to, you know, we had to… basically all I wanted to do was lock myself away and I had to be making all these arrangements; people asking me questions; I had to be making decisions. Another hard thing was going to register him, register his birth and death at the same time. Going into the town hall, sitting where… first we were sat in a waiting room where there were other people registering their babies and I was just sat there. Then somebody, I think somebody clicked. It clicked in somebody’s head and they moved me into a little… another area. But then when people came through the door they were looking at me ‘cause I was the only one sitting in that area – and it was quite open. So I remember moving from one chair to one in the corner – in the dark corner – so nobody would actually look at me. And… going through the process of doing the registration, you know, you’re asked lots of questions and that was really, really difficult.
52.53 But, of… you know, you have to, you just do it and you get through it and… Going to the funeral parlour and making the decisions they were asking me questions and all I could do was cry and I’m thinking… but the lady, I remember the experience, it was really… she was so, so lovely; really, really lovely, I have to say. And… she kind of nudged me in the right direction and helped me make the decisions and… she even, because I had no idea… I’ve never…
53.23 I’d actually, thinking about it, I’d never actually gone to a funeral here really before – you know, in my adult life I hadn’t gone to a funeral – and here I am planning a funeral for my own child, so… that was heartbreaking; it was confusing. I was just like, you know, whatever… pretty much. But, they were very supportive and they gave good information in terms of florists – they, she could see that I was on a budget… and, you know, they, she, they were fantastic, I have to say. They were really, really fantastic. They gave me the option if I wanted to come back to dress the baby for the, the funeral. And, I naively said yes, now, on, in retrospect I probably should have said no, because I didn’t realise how much they change when they’ve been… prodded and poked and put in a freezer.
54.27 And then I also remember going out thinking, I haven’t got any clothes for a funeral. I’ve got to get something that I actually can fit in, because I just had a, a baby. And I remember going into… Debenhams, or a store and I went up to somebody at the till, and I was like, I need something for a funeral. And then I just started crying… and she came round and I remember she was so nice. She was probably thinking this weird woman coming in bursting into tears, and she actually just hugged me, that’s all she did. She hugged me and I, I said, I’m really sorry. And she said, no, no, no. Don’t be silly. I’m going to get you a personal shopper. And she went and got somebody, made me sit down and they went and took all these sort of clothes to me, and took me into a changing room – a large changing room – and I was there and they helped me and got me something for the funeral, which I thought was… isn’t that amazing how somebody, a stranger, you know, would do that. And then I explained to her, oh, it’s my child’s funeral. And then she started, you know, getting emotional, but they… again it’s amazing… and the information… like, why would I share that with her? You know, I suppose because I was crying my eyes out, I had to justify I’m not just a crazy lady, so, yeah…
55.55 And then the funeral, the, the… the funeral parlour actually, because I, I don’t actively go to church – so I didn’t really have a church – the, the people there they got in touch, gave me numbers for a few people and the lady actually suggested, maybe call this one first, if he’s available, he’s really lovely etcetera, etcetera. And I rang, and he rang back, and he was absolutely amazing. He asked questions about like, what I actually wanted, do you want a really… like the kind of ceremony I wanted. What songs I wanted… that was like, what songs I wanted? I remember going, just going on YouTube and typing in, baby funeral songs. Like, who does that? That’s what I typed in. But… and then I typed that in and I remember bursting into tears. And one of the songs I remember at the funeral was Hug Him Once For Me… and that was… that basically summed up how I felt. And it’s like telling, you know, the baby’s gone, his soul is gone and he didn’t get a chance to hug him or do anything, so you’re asking… God – or whoever – the supreme being, angles, to just hug him for you so that, you know, he doesn’t feel like he’s not loved or… So, I will never forget that song, Hug Him Once From Me. Even I can’t listen to it now because that just brings me to bits, but, yeah…
57.35 It was hard like making all these decisions, organising. People were asking me, oh, are you going to have a wake? Like, what do you do? Nobody knows, you know? What do you do? What do you do? Who…? Is it something you invite people to? You don’t know. You know? Or, like… so I just, I… what I did, I just… whoever… I contacted like a few close family and friends – I have mostly friends here – and they, they came. It was a beautiful ceremony and I was happy with what happened, you know…
58.12 After the funeral and everything is like… after the funeral, I remember the day of the funeral. I remember after the funeral being alone, just being alone. Like, I don’t think people actually realised. I remember like a family member of mine, she was inviting everybody back to her house, but nobody remembered about me, so they probably had dinner or something at their house and then I just went home – me and my son, by ourselves. And that’s what happened at the funeral, and in a way that was heartbreaking.
58.48 I remember the days, the days after the funeral I was so down. I had to pull down the cot. Everything that I, you know, that I got, I had the stroller, I had everything ready for a baby and there was no baby and because I, I was unable to, to pull it down like immediately after – because I would have ideally wanted everything gone before I got home – but then I had to come and face everything, pack everything away because everything was out, hanging up, and… I had to go through the process and that was hard… that was really, really tough. I remember sitting in the middle of the floor with all these things surrounding me – clothes, carry cot, everything like surrounding me – and I was just sat in the middle of it crying, just crying. And I had to try and do it when like, when my son wasn’t there, because I didn’t want to… for some reason I felt like I had to protect him from all the… I mean sometimes I couldn’t help it, I’d burst into tears and… you know, try… even like trying to be happy for him or… But he was quite down as well and I wanted to be open and communicate with him to say, this is what’s happened and if you want to talk about it, you talk about it, and he kept asking questions.
1.00.07 And then I said to him, I named the baby Micah – because before that we kept calling the baby Ethan because that was going to be his name – and, and I told him and he said, why didn’t you call the baby Ethan? And I said, I decided to call him Micah because it means, with God. He goes, maybe that’s why God took him. Then he got upset going maybe you… maybe because you called him that, God thought he, he had to be with him, so he took him. So I had to explain to him I made the decision after he came out, because he was already with God, you know, that’s how… and I think, for me, faith kinda… I had to use something to cope and… for me believing that he’s in a better place, or he was too good for this world or… something, you know, that’s how I… that’s my coping mechanism. You know, I have to believe that…
1.01.04 Some, some people will say… because in my culture we don’t talk about stillbirths, miscarriages, and… it’s really weird, but nobody really talks about it. So, I remember, like maybe six weeks after the baby died – and I was still up… you know, little things would trigger me – and I remember somebody saying to me, oh, you’re still crying over that? Like, really? My child died? I carried this child and this is my child. This is a part of me and it’s a person. Yeah, and I’m still grieving over it. And even now, like… there was… people will say, and like even family members, my mum, whose, oh no, don’t, don’t… if you mention it, she’s like, oh, don’t dwell on it. Don’t dwell on it. You know, dwelling on it – you’re just mentioning or talking about it. But it’s not spoken about at all within my culture, as far as I’m concerned. And I have only realised the amount of people who have had losses like… similar to mine, from my experience, or mentioning it to them, or them calling to say, yeah, the same thing happened to me… and it’s quite a few people, you know? And, you know, you wonder, why? You wonder, why?
1.02.26 How do you feel about what you talk about, the cultural reaction and how do you feel about people not talking about it?
1.02.35 It saddens me because sometimes I want to talk about my child because he was here you know? He was a part of me… and I think a lot of people don’t… I don’t know why it’s so taboo not to mention it. They think it’s based on – this is my observation, possibly a sign of weakness, or… some people just don’t know how to handle death you know, ‘cause even like depression all that, which I think because… even postnatal depression etcetera, that affects people who’ve had stillborn babies, you know but its… for them it’s a sign of weakness, oh, you have to be strong and lift your head up and move on from it, you know?
1.03.24 I forgot to touch on the fact that post… throughout the whole time I was home, I didn’t have any… because I wasn’t in the area of the hospital where I was based in, because you know it’s all different post codes etcetera… I didn’t have a postnatal visit at all. So nobody came to check to see whether or not I’m bleeding too much or… you know, luckily for me, I… this is what I’m being trained for so I was able to look for telltale signs. Because it’s a high risk of infection because of course you had a baby that, you know, had passed away living inside of you. So, I wasn’t checked at all until… and then I felt like I had to be chasing up, calling up, oh, I need to see somebody. Nobody came to check me, etcetera, etcetera. That was out of the hands of the hospital because they had done their part, passed on the information and then I just wasn’t seen.
1.04.17 And then when the midwife turned up, the midwife came maybe two, two and a half weeks after delivery postnatally, she came… turned up with a scale, I opened the door and she goes, oh where’s that baby then? That was her… that was… so she obviously didn’t read her notes because the information was there that she… that, you know, I had a stillbirth, but that was her attitude.
1.04.45 And then when she came in she was more interested in the, the details – like the gory details of exactly what happened – and she didn’t end up doing a check, because she was asking me so many questions until I actually had to say, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. And so I didn’t get my blood pressure checked or anything at all postnatally and I had really bad… pelvic you know the, the… pelvic girdle pain, so a midwife came after that with a, with a bit of… with a strap for my, my hip etcetera and that’s basically, basically all the care I received postnatally.
1.05.30 Went to the GP. GP wasn’t really… she was sympathetic… but I think they… these things happen… It becomes… It’s like they become desensitised, you know so… that was pretty much… Postnatally, I don’t think, I feel like there’s so much lacking in terms of the support for parents who’ve experienced this and the care as well, the aftercare isn’t… it needs to be looked into and how it’s handled definitely has to be. I feel there’s room – a lot of room – for improvement there.
1.06.12 Were you offered any counselling or other support?
1.06.16 The only thing I was offered is the leaflets from the hospital for Sands and they were just leaflets and then when you have… when that’s happened, they give you a booklet… a package with How To Talk To Your Child when… they have good literature. However, I… at one point actually I remember feeling so desolate and so lost and I’m thinking, do I… should I ring the number? But then when I rang a particular number, then the… the person was, I don’t know… I don’t know, I felt like I was being a pain in a way when I rang up, so I ended up hanging up saying, you know, I’ve got to go. Goodbye.
1.07.02 And they never rang or got any other kind of support at all… other than, you know, the midwives who honestly, who delivered and had, you know, input in the care and they’re only, they’re only doing that because I know them personally, you know. But there was nothing out there, nothing. No… I didn’t feel like I was supported at all, I just felt like… you have the baby, you just leave the hospital and that’s it, you’re left to fend for yourself. That’s exactly how I felt.
1.07.34 Can you tell me about telling friends and family and how they reacted?
1.07.42 A lot of them said, oh, you’ll have another baby. Or, oh dear, sorry to hear but you’ll have another baby. I did that in the Caribbean accent because mostly Caribbean people. You know, oh, don’t worry about it you’ll have another child. And, at least you have your son. And that’s something that really, really hurts me, because I’m thinking… to be honest, maybe, 80 odd percent of the people I spoke to said, at least you have a child. At least you already have, you know, a child. So, because I have a child, you know, it’s no big deal, you know. That’s the kind of… that’s how, that’s how I read it. Maybe they don’t mean it that way and they’re thinking, well, at least you have… but it just for me that just didn’t sit well with me at all, you know, at all, all. But…
1.08.35 I guess that’s their… another way of them coping with the news or of me telling them. Like a lot of people had no idea what to say to me, people actually avoided me, because I suppose they… how do you react? They don’t know what to say and then… I remember going to my son’s school – when the… when school reopened – and I went to get my son. I remember having to go through the schoolyard going, my son? Yes, he passed away. Oh my… yes, he passed away. Because everybody was like, oh, where’s the baby?
1.09.11 There’s a young lady that was pregnant at the same time that I was and it so happened she had her baby on the 24th of July – the same day. She had a son and she was in the schoolyard with her son and she goes, oh, didn’t you bring the baby with you? And I had to say… the baby passed away. And since that time she’s never spoken to me again, ever. Whenever she sees me she moves or goes the other way.
1.09.36 I remember feeling… like… everybody was talking about me in the schoolyard. You’d walk past a group of people and they’d stop talking, or they’d stare at you, or they just wouldn’t say hello to you and avoid you. Until I, what I decided to do was actually pay somebody to take my son to school and pick him up for me. Yeah, so… it’s, it’s really difficult because even professionals. When eventually I went back, I went back to my training possibly eight weeks after I had the baby and actual midwives and clinicians, who work within midwifery, totally avoided me or they didn’t say hello. They…
1.10.21 It, it was really weird and some people are too… are overly familiar with you. They become overly familiar and… some people take it onto themselves as if it happened to them, you know. I don’t know like, oh, I was so devastated. But never said to you, throughout the whole conversation, how are you actually feeling? But it was about them – how devastated they were when they heard, you know, and they couldn’t eat and they… And I remember, someone – a friend of mine – said, oh, I’ve got, I’ve booked a holiday because I’m so stressed out about it. Yeah… So you think hold on a second, did it happen to you or did it happen to me? You know…
1.11.05 Another particular person wrote a long thing on social media about it, which I had to ask them, out of respect, could you just take that down, because I felt it was not their place to do that, you know. Yeah… so that was… it’s really… people… it’s hard, people don’t know, I suppose, how to, how to react. And then as the person who lost the child, you know, it’s hard, it’s really difficult because you feel you have to be noddy and smiley, you know, in accepting them giving you their condolences, or the way in which they, they give it to you, or then they avoid you. But… the people who actually avoid me I… that wasn’t very nice. You know, that’s not how… I know possibly there isn’t a right way to deal with it, but avoiding someone and alienating someone because they’ve had a loss, it’s… it devastates them to be honest.
1.12.20 What… what do you think, what would you have liked people to have said to you or how would you have liked people to react to you?
1.12.29 Don’t avoid me. You can come up and say, I’m sorry that you experienced this, or, I’m really sorry for your loss, and then we move on from there, you know. It’s… and then you have some people as well, who want, what happened? How did it happen? All these questions – throwing these questions at you, you know. What killed… And the thing that gets me is like, what killed him? It’s like… I kind of feel like probably I did something wrong to… I’m doing a quotation mark to say kill him, you know, and I think that’s just so… to me it’s just horrifying somebody saying… and the amount of people who, who actually say that.
1.13.11 Well, for me -personally – someone coming up and saying, I’m really sorry for your loss. You know, I wish this had… didn’t have to happen to you. And then say, how are you? And I’d be like, fine. Or, you know, I’m coping, or not so good. And then the conversation moves on and then you move on from there – instead of avoiding people. That makes it worse, I think, and it makes me think not very highly of you, to be honest.
1.13.41 Can you tell me did… was the post-mortem… did it reveal anything as to causes or?
1.13.48 Well… at first, to be honest, I actually – when I got the post-mortem report, was a few weeks after, after Micah had passed away – and I looked at it and all I could think of… there was no clinical indication as to why he died. And for a long time – until last night, weird enough – I was looking at it because I was going to be doing this report and all his organs everything was normal.
1.14.14 However the… what caused his death was lack of oxygen to his brain and that’s something I looked at. At first I, I never saw it – all I was reading was everything else, I said everything was fine; he was normal height… weight, normal this, normal that, organs were all normal, everything was in place. And then I… I just saw that, I don’t think I actually read the report properly. I just saw what I wanted to see and think how can you take a child that there was nothing wrong with him. Not quite sure still what caused the lack of oxygen.
I think possibly the placenta obviously wasn’t working effectively towards the end and then I, so, hence… so… basically died of asphyxiation, basically, which to me… is horrible. So your baby suffocated basically, pretty much, you know. And you had your baby and you weren’t able to protect him. Yeah, so… yeah, the post-mortem, basically, it didn’t reveal anything in terms of abnormalities, because there was none except for the fact that he wasn’t getting any oxygen towards… within those – to me – few minutes.
1.15.36 How were those post-mortem results presented to you, how were you given that information?
1.15.41 Okay, so, I received the post… the post-mortem report via post. I then sent an email to… because I had the email address of the diabetic consultant, so I actually sent her an email saying, I received the post-mortem report and… Because I felt comfortable – because of how she was and how much of an interest she showed in me as an individual – I felt like… I felt comfortable to send her that email. And she said, okay, she would speak to the obstetric consultant, so that… because… they should really contact me in order for me to come in for a meeting.
1.16.26 However, the diabetic consultant sent me an email and said, okay, we’ve arranged a meeting to come in on that date for us to discuss. I’ll be present and the obstetric consultant will be there – ‘cause she knows, you know, more about this – and an explanation will be given. And I think they said somebody else – I’m not quite sure. I went to the meeting and was placed in a room… I had to go back to the hospital, which I thought you know what… I needed to go back because I needed to go back and do my training anyway.
1.17.05 So, we went, not to the same area of the hospital – kind of the same area but a few floors up – and I was placed in a room and then the diabetic consultant came in and she goes, I’m really, really sorry. The obstetric consultant – that’s the same one that came into the room when I had the baby… after, I had to wait hours for her to come and she did… just didn’t seem interested – she, she just, she isn’t here. It seems as though she’s taken some time off. I’ll just… we can sit and chat about it. How are you doing? You know, she was concerned about how I was doing, you know. What my plans are? How am I coping? Have I got support etcetera? But she wasn’t able to explain the post-mortem report for me, ‘cause that’s not her area.
1.17.54 And then she said – I actually have it in writing – she sent a letter out saying that what they’ll do, they’ll organise another meeting so that I’ll be able to… the post-mortem can be explained to me. And… that never happened. So nobody… I‘ve never, based on… I only understood the post-mortem report, because I’m working within that kind of area, but nobody explained it to me. Nobody after that no… I haven’t had a meeting and this is going to be in July, where… it’s going to be almost two years, and I’ve never been contacted or anything at all. I was just left… pretty much.
1.18.38 How does that make you feel?
1.18.41 Upset, disappointed, angry… really. You know, I, I felt like… I think, in my opinion, it should have been explained. That’s the whole point. I know it’s written down on paper, but there are a lot of medical terms that Joe Brown or Jane Norman wouldn’t know about. And I feel like it’s the duty, I think, of the clinician to, to explain that to me personally.
1.19.19 How do you remember Micah now?
1.19.26 I don’t cry as much. And I have happy memories throughout the pregnancy, you know, with him moving. And I felt like even though he was born asleep, I felt like I have such a major connection with him, you know, with him moving. I felt like he showed his person… it’s really weird to say and I would not have thought that if he was born alive. Like he showed his personality through his movements and his reaction to sound and voices.
1.19.57 So, it still hurts because I feel… because I’ve become ill since I had the baby and I kind of feel like, have I grieved properly or did I just move on to… putting my coping hat on? I had to be strong for my son. I had to go back… I had to finish, then I became ill and then, you know, my focus has been getting better, getting better, pretty much. And I remember my son actually went through a process – because I become… I became so ill – he kept crying and saying, I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to die. You know?
1.20.35 So his concept of death has changed, because he probably wouldn’t even have thought of me dying if I had a cold or anything like that, so… But now [name of eldest son removed] and I talk about what… oh, Micah would have been walking now. Or, Micah would have been doing this. And he actually brings that up. Like he would see a little baby and said, oh, Micah would have been doing that, you know. So I think we’re at a place, I think… in a way it’s not… its become a lot easier than it was a year ago. But it’s not… it’s still not easy, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I know I got within talking about this, I get emotional because, in a way it’s, it’s still raw, you know. So… but I think of Micah with a smile on my face, and I think I’ve got a guardian angel out there, and I was privileged to carry an angel. You know, it was an opportunity given to me and that’s how I have to look at it.
1.21.38 Do you mark anniversaries or specific dates?
1.21.42 I definitely do. I… for when he on… last summer it was his first birthday and I wasn’t planning… everybody was messaging me: what are you going to do for his birthday? What are you going to do for his birthday? And it was like, nothing. I just wanted to stay at home and lock myself in a room. But then… my friends came round, my family, my sister came round and… we ended up having a small barbecue and then a candle light – so we lit candles all along the garden path and also candles… in the form… my cousin did the candles in a big spelling out of Micah’s name. And when it was dark, the candles were… it was beautiful.
1.22.33 We had prayers and people said things; I couldn’t say anything. I was just in tears because I couldn’t believe that people… like all my friends rallied round and they came and it was really, really lovely – really, really lovely. And maybe for this, his second birthday – coming up in the summer – probably do something similar. And, you know… But just to say, I just don’t want to forget or forget that he ever existed, or I didn’t have this experience, you know? It happened and it’s made… It’s a part of me, absolutely.
1.23.14 How has Micah affected you as a person?
1.23.18 As a person, I feel privileged to have carried him. I feel that he’s given me the opportunity to show how, how strong I actually am, because I have had to be strong. You know, he’s… I’m going to say I love my children, but I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for the fact that I actually have a son now that’s alive and I appreciate him more. I know I’m from a strict background so I used to be really, really strict and I think I’ve softened out a bit because, I’m like, you know, what… he could be here today and gone tomorrow. I’m going to appreciate everything that I have now and enjoy my son growing up. So I think for that, you know, Micah has changed me in a very positive way.
1.24.11 Is there anything about… the whole experience that you feel particularly proud of or that you particularly regret?
1.24.25 The ex… well, erm, I’m happy that I actually went through the process of giving birth, without having, like… I wasn’t given the option for caesarian or anything. But I’m actually happy – I know people may feel differently – but for me, I think, mentally I’m happy I went through the process of giving birth to my son. Feeling the pain that was a part of it for me. And I’m very proud that I actually did that. I’m proud of the fact that I’m able to remember him the way in which I do, you know?
1.25.10 I’ve got no kind of… now – I did before – but now I’ve got no anger or anything towards… I questioned God so much after I had him, like, why did you do this? Or, if you really exist why would you take a child or… you know? But now I’m in a place where I think, you know, everything happens for a reason. This might be something that… for example, I’m doing this interview now. Me talking about it may be able to help somebody else. This, the experience I have, and when I do finish my midwifery training, this is something I can – if this happens to somebody else, any of my clients – I’m able to relate to them. I’m able to put myself in their shoe because I’ve actually been in their shoe, you know.
1.26.02 Anything that I regret? There’s… it’s, it’s hard… it’s really difficult, difficult to say. At the moment I can’t really say I have any major regrets. Maybe the way in which… regret on my part not really. Regrets in terms of how the aftercare was, absolutely… Sometimes I, I, I question myself like, did I ask the right questions about… during my pregnancy? Did I feel… did I… the only regret probably is like, was I lackadaisical in thinking that, even though I’ve got gestational diabetes, it was so… it was somewhat of a norm for people to have it? Should I have taken better care of myself? Like there’s… those are the only regrets I have. And maybe insisting on actually having my induction on the 19th of July, because he would have been alive. That’s how… that’s my regret.
1.27.14 What do you think it’s important for people to know about stillbirth?
1.27.22 It’s important for people to know, to acknowledge… that these babies were here. Not to sweep it under the carpet and not discuss it. Allow the mothers to talk about it. To give, you know, to, to give them whatever support they need. I think it’s important to know that people experience stillbirth – they gave birth, they had a baby and the same thing… the same care that they… that you’d need after having a live baby. You still need that kind of care and… you know, even looking at post… nobody checked on my mental state and that’s something that’s major in actually losing a child.
1.28.18 I think, you know, it’s important for you to get that support in place. Not just like a leaflet with a number on it. Maybe somebody… they should have… maybe the NHS doesn’t have that kind of facility, but having a care team where you, you have these women within your care that you call up and check up on them.
1.28.40 It would have been nice if somebody checked up on me, then they would know that actually this person hasn’t had a postnatal check. This person is having a breakdown, you know – because I kind of feel like I had a tiny little bit of a breakdown, you know, with me running away and all that sort of stuff – and I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that these women gave birth. And these women are mothers; I mean some of them it’s their first child and… acknowledge that fact. And don’t ask for… don’t ask too much for too many, too much details, you know what I mean? Just give them that support… pretty much.
1.29.26 Is there anything you’d like to pass on to other bereaved parents?
1.29.31 You’re not alone, because I felt quite alone. It… I’m not going to say it, it gets better, but it gets a little bit easier throughout the years. And when it happens, I’m telling you now, it feels like it will never… the pain will never go away. And it won’t, but it will dull. You’ll be able to, to think about or mention your child without probably bursting into tears. I was crying every… honestly, I was constantly crying until I, I felt like I’d run out of tears. I still cry today. Sometimes I cry, I cried earlier in the interview. Like know that there are other women out there who’ve been through… have had the same or similar experience. I just want you all to know that you’re not alone at all… at all.
1.30.36 And is there anything else that you’d like to add that you don’t feel you’ve had an opportunity to share?
1.30.46 Well, in terms of, well… It’s hard to say but you know… I think, I think, more needs to be done in, in terms of the support that’s given to, to women with stillbirths. More… facilities or, or information need to be out there to… for… because even sitting at home making these decisions about funeral arrangements, all the questions that are thrown at you at the hospital, I’m not quite sure if, if it’s the, the right thing to do really.
1.31.35 Because sometimes, you’re not even… I think you should be given a little bit of time before… because it’s the, the same day you have the baby. They come round and they expect you to make all these major decisions in regards to the child that you’ve just literally lost, like… hours – two hours, three hours – and I think possibly they should allow you time to let it sink in, so to speak.
1.32.00 I’m not saying give them a week or two… maybe a day, you know – a few more hours than two hours allowing them to… let it sink in and then you can come. And the way you do the questioning also has an affect on, you know, the response, so to speak. But overall, I just want, I just want to be able to help somebody with my experience. And for people to know, you know, you’re not alone at all because you feel quite isolated – whether you’re a single parent like me or whether you have a partner – I think the experience of the isolation, because you feel like people don’t really understand, because you carried this child but, you know… I don’t know. That’s it really.
1.32.54 How do you think it’s impacted you… on your sort of thoughts about future pregnancy personally? I mean is that something that’s even, that’s even crossed your mind or…?
1.33.07 I had to make a decision to get a… based on the condition that I have, to have a treatment, which the decision had to be made there and then to save my life. So, the treatment I’m on now – and I had previously – was quite aggressive chemotherapy. Because of the disease I have, it causes my lung, my lung capacity to basically… my lungs were failing basically and I had to make a decision to take this drug or… have the opportunity to be able to have a child in the future… or take this drug to save my life. And I had to make a decision to take the drug, and there was no chance for me. I questioned, I cried… because I’d just lost my child and just a few months ago, and I had to make this decision not be able to have another child… or, I mean, or die… basically.
1.34.06 …couldn’t… I asked questions – can’t I freeze my eggs? And then they said, no. Because the process is too long and this treatment has to be done in the next few days, so I had to make that decision. But miracles do happen. I still have hope and there are always other options – ‘cause I’ve always wanted to have more, more children; there are always options of fostering. There are loads of children in the world that needs, you know, that parent… parents, parent stability, so… that’s something I’ll probably look into in the future. And being single now, I wouldn’t… and the condition and that I… and the position that I’m in now, I’m not in a place to have a child.
1.34.50 I remember thinking – I’m not someone who’s promiscuous – but I remember thinking after losing Micah, I’d just go out and get pregnant, because I just wanted to have a baby, you know – ‘cause I kind of felt like I’d failed as a woman. I remember saying, sorry, sorry, sorry, because I felt like I was a failure. It’s really weird. I don’t feel like that now because I feel like, how lucky was I to bring an angel into this world. I was chosen, you know, so I suppose that’s a coping mechanism and for me to feel better about the whole situation not let you… but you have to find some way to cope. Yeah, so presently, biologically, I’ve been told that I won’t be able to have another child – due to this – which breaks my heart… and I’m trying to hold back crying, but, you know, it’s just something I have to live with and I have been blessed to be able to have [name of eldest son removed] and have Micah so… yeah.
Micah was stillborn on July 24th 2015 at 32 weeks and five days. He weighed three kilograms and 40 grams and measured 47 centimetres. In the third trimester Shauna was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At a routine appointment, before a planned induction, a scan confirmed that Micah’s heart had stopped beating.
During pregnancy Shauna was going to name her baby Ethan, but when he was stillborn she decided to call him Micah, which means ‘with God’.
Shauna* (37) is a student midwife. She lives in the South East of England. Micah is Shauna’s second child; she has a son from a previous relationship. He was seven years old when Micah was stillborn.
Shauna and Micah’s father’s relationship broke down during her pregnancy with Micah. Shauna’s pregnancy was progressing normally until the third trimester when it was noticed that her glucose levels were high. She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and closely monitored. Micah’s movements were normal and there was no need for concern, but it was agreed that Shauna should be induced at 38 weeks of pregnancy.
Shauna had a planned appointment prior to induction, at this appointment it was confirmed that Micah had no heartbeat. Micah was stillborn on 24th July 2015. He weighed three kilograms and 40 grams and measured 47 centimetres in length.
Since Micah’s birth Shauna has been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease for which (at the time of interview) she was receiving treatment. Shauna’s subsequent diagnosis has not been formally linked to Micah’s death.
*Because she works in maternity care, Shauna is a pseudonym.