There is nothing that prepares you for a silent birth and there is nothing that prepares you for going home without your baby. I often refer to the moment that Sophie was born as a deafening silence, and I know that this is a contradiction in terms. So I thought I would write a series of blog posts, not to upset people, but to explain what happens during a silent birth, why the silence is deafening, and what happens after the birth. This is just my experience, and other people’s experience may be different… I would like to hear other experiences so please write a comment or send me an email if you wish.
In the series are:
- The Induction, labour and birth
- Your sleeping baby and the first 24 hours
- Going home without your baby
- Supporting your children
- The post-mortem
- Planning you baby’s farewell
- Life after the funeral
- Help that is available
The Induction, Labour and Birth
So… what happened before I was induced
Well, as many of you know, I attended the hospital for reduced movements on 7th March 2016. At this point Sophie had a strong heartbeat and there was no apparent need for a scan. On the 9th March 2016 I went back to the hospital as the movements had completely ceased and I think I just ‘knew’. The midwives at the hospital were wonderful; they saw me straight away and popped me on the monitor, no sounds at all. The doctor came in, and I’ll always remember him as being the most caring and affectionate doctor I’ve ever met… he brought in a mobile scanning unit and on the screen it was just grey… no colours at all, no heartbeat, no movement… just still and grey. His words will always stay with me, he was so compassionate, he just said ‘it doesn’t look good guys’ and bent over and gave me, and then Paul a huge hug. This was such a lovely way of telling us as I was dreading the words ‘I’m sorry, your baby’s gone’ or ‘your baby’s passed away’… He told us, without actually using those words. I also remember him saying ‘do you have a name for your little girl?’ to which we replied ‘Sophie’… and then he said ‘what a lovely name, we will all her Sophie from now on and it’s important that we use her name’, that was also a lovely thing to say, not once was she referred to as ‘foetus’ but always ‘baby Sophie’. The rest of that day passed in a blur and I was sent home for two days while awaiting induction.
On 11th March 2016 we went back to the hospital and were taken to the baby loss room. This room was nothing like your standard delivery room… we had a double bed, a kitchenette and it was like a home from home. I was given a pessary at 11am by a lovely doctor… again, very compassionate and really caring. The induction was painless and the contractions started within half an hour (I was told it would take a while and up to 24 hours). I remember asking the doctor what my baby would look like… I think I was just frightened at that moment, and she replied ‘Sophie will just look like a sleeping baby’.
I was allowed to leave the room and walk around as much as I wanted during labour, in fact going downstairs to the canteen was encouraged. About half an hour after the induction started I was in the canteen with my husband (Paul), my dad (Graham), and my step mum (Wendy), I suddenly started contacting about every 5-6 minutes. They were really uncomfortable from the start and I will never forget Wendy saying ‘Even though you’re having contractions, you’re still managing to eat those Malteasers!’… and I did!!! There was no way I was not going to eat my Malteasers and drink my hot chocolate!
Back in the room and my care was handed over to a student midwife named Ella and a registered midwife that was overseeing Ella’s work. They were both so lovely, they listened, they were compassionate, we actually shared a few laughs… which in that situation I found really surprising but comforting. We had a really big laugh when the lunch trolley came around (fish and chips) and I hardly touched mine because the contractions, by this time were really strong and coming every couple of minutes… yet Paul sat there and ate the lot; between mouthfuls he said ‘are you alright?’ and when my dad made a joke about how he is sitting there eating when I’m in labour Paul said ‘well… I’ve gotta keep my strength up!’… this made us just laugh so much… so typically Paul!
I started to feel the need to push… so strange that the whole thing just felt like labour and yet we knew that Sophie was going to be born sleeping. After examining me Ella said that I could push when ready. Ella and her mentor tried to keep the birth as natural as possible for Paul and I. My dad and Wendy remained in the kitchenette during this stage so it was just the two of us, along with the midwives. I remember Ella saying ‘would you like Sophie delivered on to your stomach?’ which I did, and she asked Paul ‘if he’d like to cut the cord’, it was just so natural, and for want of a better word… it was perfect. Paul cuddled me the whole way through. When Sophie was born the silence was horrendous… you could literally hear a pin drop. Nothing had prepared us for that, and I think that was the most awful thing about the whole labour and birth. You will your baby to cry, even though you know she won’t; you will the doctors to save her, even though you know she’s already gone; and you will her to open her eyes, even though you know it will never happen.
Why do I still refer to it as the perfect birth?
This I have no answer to! Even though it was the saddest day of my life I will always be grateful to the team that looked after me and Paul so well. They were all fantastic and made this impossible situation more bearable; they made the birth as natural as possible and gave us as much time as we needed before we said ‘goodbye’. Paul was able to stay overnight and we all stayed in the same room… it was simply perfect.