Reader Post: Charlotte’s Story

As part of this blog, we invite readers who have experienced pregnancy loss or stillbirth to share their stories with us. You can submit your story on our Share Your Experiences page.

We’re very grateful to Charlotte Dawson, who blogs at The Mummy with Empty Arms, for getting in touch with her experience. Thank you, Charlotte, and we wish you all the best.

I have had three pregnancy losses, one in each trimester. Each one has been completely different but equally heart breaking.

My first pregnancy loss was at 8 weeks. Following going to A&E after having a small bleed, I was sent home with no information about what was going to happen to me. I remember having really severe cramps that kept on getting worse. I went to the toilet and then the pain subsided slightly. Looking back I realised what had happened, that I had passed my first baby in the toilet and flushed them away. That memory still plays on my mind today. I had support from friends and family afterwards but no help from my GP or the hospital.

My second pregnancy loss was at 16 weeks. My midwife couldn’t find a heart beat at a routine appointment. I was sent to triage in the maternity unit of Carlisle hospital. A lovely doctor and midwife looked after my husband and I whilst we had a scan to find out what happened. They needed to have further advice so a different doctor came in to look at the ultrasound screen. He simply commented “I think it’s obvious isn’t it.” There was no apology or empathy from him at all. Luckily, this was the only negative experience I had as the rest of the maternity team were phenomenal. I came back to Carlisle the next day where my husband and I were given the bereavement suite to stay in. The staff explained everything that would happen to me and the post mortem process as my husband and I had asked for one to be performed. I was induced in the morning and my son was delivered in the evening. We chose to only see him once and then we went home in the evening. The staff at the hospital were absolutely fantastic and gave us a memory box with our son’s blanket in. Our son was cremated after his post mortem and we chose not to have his ashes sent back to us. With hind sight I wish I had spent more time with him and asked for his ashes but I have to understand that we made those choices at a very difficult and confusing time for us.

After returning home from hospital, I was supported by my midwife, my bereavement midwife, family and friends. I was receiving counselling for my anxiety during my pregnancy and so this continued after my son had passed away. Once again, my boss was incredible and extremely supportive. I went back to work on a phased return after being off work for around 6 weeks. I knew I had a safety net and if I had any worries, I knew I could tell her and that she would support me. We received our son’s post mortem results around 10 weeks after he was born. Our consultant was fantastic, he explained the detailed report to us and was extremely kind and caring.

Unfortunately I recently had my third pregnancy loss at 35 weeks. Even though I had been monitored very closely by my midwife and the hospital, we found out that my daughter’s heart beat had stopped after being concerned about not feeling her move since the night before. She was delivered the next day by c-section and I stayed in hospital for a couple of days. Once again the staff at Carlisle were incredible and very supportive. They explained what would happen during my operation, my recovery, spending time with Alice and the post mortem process. My midwife gave us a memory box with keepsakes of Alice. The memory box had been provided by the charity 4Louis and is a huge source of comfort for us.

My husband and I spent lots of time with Alice making important memories. Our parents also spent time with her too, it was only after losing Alice that I realised the impact that our pregnancy losses had on our families too. We had a funeral for Alice and then scattered her ashes around a tree that we planted for her. The funeral director was very supportive and explained what would happen during the service and answered all of our questions.

We have received incredible support from our midwife who still texts me and comes to see us every week. My bereavement midwife has been lovely and has called me regularly to check how we are doing and my GP has been great. We are still waiting for our post mortem results which should come back in the next few weeks. Once again my boss has been incredible and is supporting me even though I am not back at work yet.

I have learnt that it is vital to talk about what has happened to us, be it with medical professionals, family, friends and/or colleagues. I have also found that writing is an excellent way of processing what has happened especially when I can’t vocalise how I am feeling. My husband and I have written in a diary to Alice since we came back from hospital. It doesn’t take the pain away but it allows us to reflect on what has happened and remember the memories that we made with Alice whilst we were in hospital. I have also started writing a blog about my experience of pregnancy loss. I have done this as I firmly believe that it is important to make others feel like they are not alone going through pregnancy loss. There is always support out there for them.

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