Project Blog

Thank you for your interest in our project. We will be using this blog to keep you up-to-date with our research, and to reflect on issues relevant to our research. We will also be publishing submissions from people who have been affected by pregnancy loss.

If you would like to contribute your own experience, we would love to hear from you! Please see the Share Your Experiences page for more information.

Please feel free to comment on the posts published here, but do not be concerned if your comment does not appear straight away; all comments are moderated before publication.

Remembering Baby: Life, Loss and Post-Mortem

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Remembering Baby: Life, Loss and Post-Mortem is a small but powerful exhibition that can be seen in London for the next couple of weeks. It explores the space of pregnancy loss where parents and professionals meet. Organised as a part of ‘End of’ or ‘Start of’ Life Project carried out at the University of Sheffield, it shows ways of articulating loss of a baby in ways where words may not be the only source of meaning. Objects invoking memories are accompanied by sound pieces inspired by memories and experiences of parents who have lost a baby at an early stage of life.

Find out more at rememberingbaby.co.uk; twitter @_rememberbaby

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Venues:

3-14 November 2017, Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3EY

5-14 December 2017, The Art House, 8 Blackfields, Sheffield, S1 4HJ

Reader Post: Georgina’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 Georgina for getting in touch with her experience. Thank you, Georgina, and we wish you all the best.

I lost my baby boy Saul at 22 weeks in November 2016. At the 20 week scan they found heart abnormalities and this was confirmed by a specialist as tricuspid artresia, a condition where a valve in the heart does not form and this causes half the heart not to develop. We were given options but due to the severity of the problems we chose to terminate the pregnancy as it seemed the most loving thing we could do for our baby.

 
I had to have an injection to put him to sleep which I found the most traumatic moment of the whole ordeal and I was induced three days later. I was given a private bereavement suite in the hospital and the care we received from everyone there was amazing.

 
We had him blessed in the hospital and then went home to plan his burial. I couldn’t face anyone so we decided on a private burial with just myself and my husband.
We had ongoing support from the hospital bereavement Midwife and councillor and I’m still in touch with them 12 months later.

 
Three months after loosing Saul I had the courage to go to a sands meeting and this was like a lightbulb going off, other people were feeling exactly how I was and no one looked at me like I was crazy when I said what I was feeling and how low I had got.

 
A lot of friends didn’t understand or know what to say so kept their distance. I had a handful of friends who continued to keep in touch but I have lost a lot of what I thought were close friends as they just didn’t understand why a month or two later I wasn’t back to normal.

 
What I’ve realised is that the only people who can truly understand the emotions and pain that you are going through are people who have been through it themselves and those who work with these people everyday.

 
Having Saul has changed me completely, I have learnt so much about myself and have made changes to my life that I would never have had the courage to do before I lost him. It has also brought me and my husband closer together, we had real challenges in the first few months but we made it through together stronger than ever.

 
I would urge anyone going through this to get as much help and support as you can, it’s the most difficult time in my life by far but it does get better and makes you realise what’s important in your life.

You can get in touch with Sands here, and further resources are available on our Useful Resources page.

Next Steps for the Project

As Baby Loss Awareness Week draws to a close, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what’s next for the Death Before Birth project team.

Our linguists are currently focusing on analysing the transcripts of 16 interviews we conducted with professionals who provide support to those who have experienced pregnancy loss. The majority of those we interviewed work for one of our partner organisations, with participants from the Miscarriage Association, SANDS, and Antenatal Results and Choices. This analysis has enabled the linguists to build and trial an annotation scheme which they will also use when analysing the interviews with the bereaved.

We are also currently conducting interviews with women who have experienced miscarriage, termination for fetal anomaly, or stillbirth. These interviews will enable us to investigate the experiences of the bereaved, the care they received, and their decision-making processes surrounding the loss. We will also identify differences in the language used by caregivers and the bereaved, as this can point to different understandings and conceptions of the experience of pregnancy/baby loss in the two groups.

We’re looking forward to talking about our research at a number of upcoming conferences. Jeannette and Sarah are sharing some of the linguistic findings at the British Sociological Association’s ‘Death and Time’ symposium in London in December, while Karolina will be attending Shifting States, a major international anthropology conference held at the University of Adelaide. We have also submitted an abstract for the 2018 Researching and Applying Metaphor Conference at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Reader Post

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 this reader for getting in touch with her experience. Thank you, and we wish you all the best.

My story is of two losses.
In 2007 I had the life skills, experience and knowledge to bring up a child but at the time I had just returned from travelling (cut short by my knowledge of the pregnancy).  Without a job, home or support network around me the baby’s father and I decided to terminate the pregnancy.  I am resolutely pro-choice that women should decide what happens to their own bodies.  My decision at the time was the right one but the profound sense of loss was huge.  Unfortunately in Guernsey doctors (£50 fee) can refuse on their own personal grounds to not support your wish to terminate.  I went to see a specialist who was rough, mean and emotionally hostile to my vulnerable and fragile knowledge of being pregnant when he examined me. To be able to terminate the pregnancy I had to travel to the UK, at the cost of the baby’s father and myself, as Guernsey doctors refuse to carry out terminations after 12 weeks.  I was just over 11 weeks when I found out I was pregnant, therefore by the time I had receive the consultants ‘second opinion’, it was too late.  I told few people other than those closest to me, travelling was difficult having only had a termination less than 24 hour earlier to return to the Island.  That sense of loss still lingers today and when I did fall pregnant years later I often thought how old that child would be, the sense of loss will always be there and yes it still was the right but difficult choice.
In 2015, my husband and I had been married for four years.  We fell pregnant and waited for our first 12 week scan (at 14 weeks), we skipped down the hallway super excited as all the tests had been positive.  To say that it felt like the world imploded when we found out our baby did not have a heartbeat would not really do justice to us trying to fall pregnant for three years.  When the ultrasound technician held the sonogram to my belly she didn’t say anything.  Not for a long time and when she did she lacked any emotional intelligence.  We had to get a second opinion at another hospital across town.  When we got there the second sonographer confirmed that our baby had died at around 8 weeks old.  For 6 weeks I had been carrying our baby and there were no symptoms, side effects or inclinations that anything had gone wrong.  We soon learnt what silent miscarriage meant.  I decided that I wanted the foetus to be medically removed, rather than wait any longer as my body had no sense of normality even after 6 weeks.  Because it was Thursday we had to wait till the Sunday for an appointment.  Those four days were like a living hell.  Waking up crying knowing our baby was dead was one of the worse waiting experiences of my life.  There was little anybody could say to comfort us.  Insensitive people would say ‘it’s common’, ‘at least now you can eat blue cheese’, ‘did you not take vitamins?’ were all horrific to respond to.  The insensitive nature of people only grew.
At the hospital arriving on time we waiting four hours for the operation, in those four hours the sister came in and said ‘are you here for the womb cleaning?’.  I was shocked, I didn’t even reply, it was so brazenly insensitive and repulsive what she had said.  Signing the forms for our baby to be cremated on the Thursday the NHS then lost these whilst I had my operation on the Sunday.  When I went to be discharged from hospital the O&G consultant asked how long I needed as a sick note and when I said two weeks she told me one was ‘enough’ and gave the back the form IN ANOTHER PATIENT’S NAME. I was given no antibiotics after the op so went on to get an infection.  The sickening lack of care we received at NHS Wexham Park Hospital was horrendous.
When I later went to the doctor as I knew I had an infection I asked to please be taken off of the midwife calling list so that I could please not be reminded of my loss at each missed appointment.  Again this was not done so the midwife calls kept appearing as did the 3 day health visitor checks for when our baby would have been due.  It was shambolic.
The emotional support from people was really 50:50.  Those that did decide they wanted to ‘help’ made horrifically insensitive comments, others pretended like it had never happened, few genuinely knew through first experience how raw grieving for an unborn baby was.  We were offered no counselling or support, my husband had an enormous sense of loss too, we both cried many times a day.  Good news followed not so long after and we found ourselves pregnant.  The service and support we received from the NHS when we moved to Hampshire was profoundly different – caring staff that spent huge amounts of time quelling our phobias and prior traumas of our NHS treatment in Berkshire.  We will never forget our first baby, the trauma of our treatment in Berkshire or the care and attention we received in Hampshire.  Gardening and planting new things, I went to a garden centre not long after we lost our first baby, the grape vine, olive tree and snowdrop bulbs all remind me of our first baby at different times of year.