“From the sound of her heartbeat to a sudden stop - the silence we got when Aleisha’s heartbeat stopped was earth-shattering.”
My name is Emily-Jean, and my daughter Aleisha Jean was stillborn at 35 weeks on April 14 2017.
My husband and I had never believed something like this would happen to us.
We had been through a safe and successful pregnancy not long before – Aleisha’s brother Parker was one at the time, and we were incredibly excited about giving him a little sister.
At such a short age gap, we could see Parker and Aleisha together as young kids, running around, playing together and hopefully creating a bond that would run through to adulthood and last their lifetimes. We felt incredibly blessed.
The night of April 13, I felt ‘off.’
I can’t explain it, though I knew something was happening. I thought I was in labour. The next morning, I argued with myself about going to the hospital. My tummy was going tight, and I had cramps, and I assumed I was in early labour. I decided, about mid-morning, to head to the hospital. We called my mother-in-law to watch Parker as we set off with excitement thinking she was on her way.
At the hospital, I was taken into one of the rooms to be monitored. I was hooked up to the CTG machine, and we sat there listening to her heartbeat. I moved, and the monitor slipped off, so we called in the midwife to help hook it back on. She sat there for some time, moving it around, trying to find her heartbeat. It was prolonged and very quiet.
She called in another midwife to try, then another midwife.
All of a sudden, the room was full of midwives and doctors. One minute I was fully dressed, and the next, I was in my underwear with a gown laying over the top of me. I was being prepped for an emergency caesarean. The Doctor came in with an ultrasound machine and scanned my belly. Next thing, the room was empty, then in walked three midwives and a doctor.
He sat on the bed, held my hand and said ‘I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat, your baby has died’.
How could this be? One minute we were listening to her heartbeat to then nothing.
The silence we got when Aleisha’s heartbeat stopped was earth-shattering. The sound of her heartbeat, and then its sudden stop.
The room was silent, sheer utter silence. You could hear a pin drop next door. Nothing can prepare you for that.
I can remember my husband’s scream. I was in shock and couldn’t talk.
After discussing our options with the medical team, I had chosen to go home to spend time with my family and get some photos as we were booked in that weekend for our maternity photos. And head back in in the morning to be induced and have a vaginal delivery. I wanted this to be as personal as I could. I had a shower at the hospital before we left to go home. I noticed some bleeding.
Our friends picked us up from the hospital and took us home, where they spent time with us. I felt a bit off and couldn’t work out why. I had gone to the toilet and noticed I was bleeding a lot. I was still in shock about what had happened. I didn’t want to think about it.
While talking with family, I stood up and felt a pop and a gush. And from then, I was in and out of consciousness. We called the ambulance, however living 30 minutes from our local hospital, my husband drove us in, and we met the paramedics on the side of the road. I was rushed into the emergency department and was met with a group of midwives. Through this time I had lost a significant amount of blood and was rushed in for an emergency caesarean. During this surgery, I had ten plasma transfusions and three blood transfusions, once out of surgery I had another blood transfusion.
Aleisha was born and was perfect in every way. Sam and I spent three days with her we were fortunate to have a Cuddlecot, which allowed us to do that. She was so beautiful in her little pink outfit and cream bonnet. It was just so unbelievable that we wouldn’t be able to take her home.
I am sharing my story to raise awareness of Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness (PAIL) month, in October. The theme of PAIL this year is ‘silence’ and when I think of the moments of silence that surrounded Aleisha’s birth, death and still today, many come to mind.
At times, when we’re around people who have not experienced PAIL, we feel silenced. We all know too well that when we mention our baby that has died, people feel awkward and uncomfortable. We feel like we’re not allowed to bring Aleisha up in conversation, and this forced silence is heartbreaking.
I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other families feel less alone. Together, by sharing our stories and experiences, we can break this taboo.
Share your stories and break the silence by #standingsilent and tagging us on social media.
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This year to acknowledge International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day we are sharing the moments of silence affecting bereaved parents to encourage conversation about pregnancy and infant loss for the month of October.