“Termination for medical reasons does not mean you did not love or want your baby. Leo was very much wanted and loved.”
It was August 2019 when I received the most devastating news.
I’d left my house for a routine 20-week scan, and it was identified my baby, who we later named Leo, had Ascites.
Antenatal appointments were always exciting but also a little stressful. I’d had a miscarriage In February 2019, so I was alert to anything that could go wrong.
But nothing prepared me for the news that we were about to hear. Instead of the standard measuring and questions about baby movements, my obstetrician had received some deeply troubling blood test results.
Leo had contracted CMV – which is a viral infection. As a health professional, I knew of the risk of infections and been so diligent with my handwashing, but I still managed to catch the virus. With CMV, it’s common not to have any symptoms – so I had no idea that I was even infected.
CMV is a common infection throughout society, and its risk to unborn babies can be significant. CMV is the most common cause of disabilities in newborn babies, and in Leo’s case, the prognosis was not good. Leo was severely infected, and the chances of him making it full term were low, and if he did make it, the chances of a good quality of life were meagre.
We were given all the available information. I spent a lot of time between finding out and making a decision. I did a lot of research, and I tried to find similar cases that resulted in a good outcome. But there were none. We made the heartbreaking decision to undergo a termination for medical reasons.
When you terminate a pregnancy at 24-weeks you have to have a labour and delivery. It’s terrifying. I was so scared. Knowing I had to go through labour and deliver a dead baby. Just awful. It took 4 days from the commencement of the medicine until Leo was born. At some point during those few days Leo had died.
This was unbelievably painful. Coping after loss is hard, and you need lots of support. I think what helped me most is knowing in the depth of my grief is that - where there is deep grief there is deep love.
Two years have now passed, and in that time the world has certainly become much more aware of the devastation that viruses can create due to COVID-19. But it’s really important that other viruses like CMV aren’t forgotten, because these viruses, too, take and shatter lives just like COVID-19.
CMV was recently on the top of our minds as we went through our third pregnancy. On 14 May 2021, our beautiful, and healthy, rainbow baby Luke joined the world. We were overjoyed and are now loving every moment of watching Luke grow.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Month in October, and International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15, is such an important time for our family.
When you lose a baby you lose a lifetime of making memories with that child. A remembrance day allows families the chance to reflect on the memories they do have, and for the world to see and acknowledge the little lives that were lost.
When I saw the theme for PAIL this year was silence, it instantly struck a chord with me. This year saw the second anniversary of my loss, but only a handful of people remembered. Also, I don’t feel like anyone acknowledges Leo’s birth as actually giving birth. There is no space to share my birth story.
I wanted to share my story to help break the silence that still exists when you lose a baby, and hope that maybe it will be of some help to others going through the same pain that we did.
October 15 is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Reach out to our 24/7 support line on 1300 308 307 or visit our support library
This year to acknowledge International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day we are sharing the moments of silence affecting bereaved parents to encourage conversation about pregnancy and infant loss for the month of October.