Saying Hello and Goodbye

Feb 23, 2015 | Anencephaly, Induction/L&D, Neural Tube Defects, Stories

We had to consider our son Matty, and how it would affect him if we went full term, how it would affect our families and also how it would affect us.

By Karen

Our story begins in the summertime, when my husband and I, who already had wonderful 3-year-old son called Matthew, decided we would try for another child. I stopped my contraceptive pill and became pregnant in only three weeks. We were amazed because it had taken almost two years for us to conceived Matty. We were so delighted, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. We told our close family members immediately, and mentioned to Matty that he had a little brother or sister on the way.

During the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy I suffered with awful morning sickness and tiredness. My bump appeared very quickly, something I hadn’t experienced when pregnant with Matty, so before long we couldn’t keep our new baby a secret from our friends and neighbours. Everyone was so happy for us, so although I felt so ill, I was overcome with happiness at the same time.

I had an ultrasound scan done that October and it confirmed that I was 13 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy. Nothing had been mentioned to us at the scan that anything abnormal was noticed. We left the hospital feeling on top of the world and showed off the ultrasound photos of our baby to everyone

Three weeks later I went back to the hospital to have my AFP blood test done. The midwife said they would phone me if the results show anything abnormal, but if not, I would receive a letter in the post advising me that everything was fine.

On the Monday morning my telephone rang. It was the Midwife informing me that my AFP levels were very high, which indicated our baby had a high chance of having Spina Bifida. However, they had booked me in for another ultrasound scan on the Thursday which would confirm any conditions. My world fell apart. I immediately rang my husband at work to tell him.

The next three days were unbearable. We looked into what Spina Bifida would mean for our child on the Internet and we felt reassured that it was a condition we could adjust to and deal with. After all, this was our child we had made out of love for each other and our family.

Thursday morning we met with our consultant who advised us that they were looking for Spina Bifida, or maybe something to do with the baby’s abdomen or head. Unfortunately, the scan didn’t determine what condition our baby had. But our consultant mentioned that our baby had a small head and we may need to think about a termination. Another appointment was made for us on the following Wednesday at a different hospital, in Nottingham, where a more detailed scan could be performed. We left the hospital in total shock, confusion and floods of tears. Again, we researched on the Internet and a condition called Anencephaly kept coming up over and over again. We couldn’t believe such a condition existed, let alone that it could happen to our baby.

When we arrived at the hospital in Nottingham, another consultant advised us what they were looking for and took us into the ultrasound room. Within minutes of starting the scan he informed us that our gorgeous, much wanted baby had Anencephaly and that the condition was incompatible with life. Another scan was performed by a different sonographer to confirm the Anencephaly and the phrase incompatible with life kept ringing in my ears.

My husband and I were escorted to a private room where our options were given to us. We could go full term with our baby or choose to terminate. The tears were streaming down our faces. I kept thinking i couldn’t possibly make that decision. I wanted my baby. I wanted my baby so very, very much.

We left the hospital to consider our options at home and had another appointment at our local hospital the following day. After a sleepless night, crying and being in shock, we decided that we would terminate, it was and always will be the hardest decision I have ever had to make. We had to consider our son Matty, and how it would affect him if we went full term, how it would affect our families and also how it would affect us. I couldn’t make my baby suffer anymore than he had already.

After seven hours of labor I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy. He looked so peaceful, and he looked just like his older brother Matthew. We had a blessing and naming ceremony performed where we named him Harry Christopher. I have many photos, hand prints and footprints. I have looked at them several times every single day since we said hello and goodbye to Harry. He was so wanted. Not a day goes by when we don’t think of him. He will forever be in our hearts and we will love him always.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had any contact from the hospitals, consultants, midwives or my own GP since we lost Harry. We were left to cope with the grief of losing our precious baby son alone. The system has let us down badly, which is why I’m here, to learn how other parents have coped with losing their beloved babies. The best medicine we have had is our other son, Harry’s older brother Matthew who always makes us smile when I never thought it possible. Mummy and Daddy love both their boys very, very much.

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