A Fathers story
“I`m really sorry but we cannot find a heartbeat”. The words that ring through my head constantly and will life with me forever. The Vision of time slowing down and people talking around me but not taking anything in.
It was our first child and all sorts of things were going through our heads. Will we be good parents, how are we going to cope with the sleepless nights and basically our lives as we know it will change the minute our child is born. We took the first step on the property ladder and bought a 2 bedroom house. Everything was going so great and looking forward to the future. These are exciting times.
Slightly superstitious about getting Baby clothes early but couldn’t resist the temptation. Looked at prams that we could pay up each month until arrival date. Family all chipping in and buying baby essentials.
8 months gone and the reality was kicking in that a child will be in our arms soon. Baby room all ready and we used to laugh at bath time when my wife would lie in the bath and we watched in amazement of the baby turning and saying “oh my god is that her feet”. We knew it was a girl because we were both nosey and wanted to know the sex. Bought some books and went through names. Day after day disagreeing on her name. One day we decided and agreed this would be the name of our daughter. Time for the wife to go on Maternity and now was just a waiting game.
Am I going to be a good father? As a boy who never had his dad around him since 10 years old I promised myself I would never ever leave my children behind and do the best I could for them.
Scans starting to get more frequent because the growth of the baby was growing to the line required. She was just under the 2nd line. Specialist said nothing to worry about but we would just liked to keep and eye on this. No worries on my part because they are the professionals and I trust their expertise. Weekly scans will be amazing cause I can see her growing and sucking her thumb.
At 37 weeks it was Bath time for my wife again and I sat in the toilet waiting for the movements but strangely nothing. Maybe its because she is growing and there isn`t much room left. We have a Scan tomorrow so that will be good to reassure all is okay.
Monday 7th July we were in the waiting room for scan. “Has there been any movements?” The answer was No. Kept telling myself it will be okay when we see the scan.
This is when my memory is vague. Is it because my thought process wants to block it out or was I in shock? The lady doing the scan went very silent, I started thinking what’s she doing, Julie looked at me and I could see the fear in her eyes. I had to say it will be okay to re-assure her. Then time stopped and those words “I need to go and get a 2nd opinion”. Wait you have just left us in this dark room and my wife is starting to cry. I wanted to re-assure again but when asked whats going on I just said “I don’t know”. What else could I say, my mind was going into shutdown.
A Specialist then came in, fiddled about with the scan probe, my heart was racing and then the words came out his mouth “I’m really sorry but we cant find a heartbeat”. No, no, no this cant be right my daughter is coming soon.
One minute I’m in the scan room then we get put in a room with low lights, couple of chairs and a telephone on a table. My thoughts were what’s a phone in here for? Our Midwife who had been with us through the checks then came in and offered her sympathies and please use the phone to inform family. Remember phoning my mum but my mind won’t let me remember what I said. I know I cried. Our specialist doctor came in and went through what happens next. Confusion was setting in. You are going to give my wife a tablet and we have to go home and come back 2 days later. This cant be right we can’t go back to the house and I can’t have my wife walking about with our dead daughter.
We got home and I didn’t look in the baby room. Just shut the door over and didn’t want to look inside, which was going to be my daughter’s bedroom. Again the 2 days at home are a haze but only bits I remember is crying uncontrollably on the bed, asking myself maybe they got it wrong and my daughter will start moving again. Flowers, cards and people phoning are other memories of these 2 days. Don’t even know if we went outside. Frustrates me now that I can’t remember these bits.
We went back to the hospital but this time through a different door and into a room of our own. This still didn’t feel real, I am dreaming and going to wake up soon and my daughter is going to come out alive and it will be a miracle. Sitting in the room and my wife was getting tablets to enhance the labour. In the background I could hear babies crying. Are you for real, We are about to deliver a stillborn baby and you have put us in a ward where babies are being born. How inconsiderate can you be?
All sorts of doctors, nurses were coming in and out and we even had time to have a laugh when the doctor said he needed to take blood from me. As someone who hates needles I went in a cold sweat and my wife had the smile I remembered her having before all this happened. The professionalism of the midwife who dealt with us was out of this scale. When I think of it now on how calm she was and how hard it must have been for her to do this job.
9th July 2003 we gave birth to a stillborn. Strangest moment of our life as you see on the telly babies been born and they wait for the baby to cry. There was a deadly silence and as said the midwife dealt with everything in a professional manner. Day before I was asked if I would like to hold my daughter, I said no at the time but that immediately changed when I seen her. She was perfect and my daughter. I wanted to hold her and gave her a kiss.
That was it, they took her away and already they were talking about what funeral service we wanted. Days, months later I don’t know how I survived this. The funeral was a small service and I kept thinking I had to be strong for my wife. Before I knew it I was back at work but still feeling numb and started to feel a bit angry. Was never like me to react like this but now realise its part of the grieving process.
This is the part where I realise, I failed in. I never spoke about it, let it bottle up inside of me. I never forgot about her and thought about her every day. To this day I don’t know if my daughter spoke to me. I was lying in the couch. Suddenly a gust of wind came in and was swirling about the living room. I sat up and said is that you? At that point it stopped. Was it real or a dream? To this day I never know.
10 years later my wife convinced me to go to a counsellor and talk together about the loss. Yeah, I thought sounds good until I sat on the couch and was asked to recall what happened. That’s the day all my emotions came out and felt like a big release. Oh my god what happened there.
Now I realise this should have been done 10 years ago but I stubbornly kept it in. My only bit of advice to all Dads who have went through the same grief is please, please don`t keep this to yourself and don’t think “I’m Fine” it’s the biggest mistake I ever made. Talk to your partner, talk about your baby with pride and don’t be ashamed in looking for help. You will never get over it but over the years you begin to accept it more. I still have days where I miss her but I know and take peace that she is still with me and guiding me.
I hope this will help some fathers to get through this and know that charities like Baby Loss retreat are here to help with the grief from start until you are confident in your emotions.
Wish all a peaceful Fathers Day x