A night shift on ITU was busy, like any other. I didn’t feel right all night. I popped to casualty as I had pains below and they asked me to do a pregnancy test. I laughed. Pregnant? Me? Don’t be silly! I was 36 when I met my partner Steve on a blind date organised by work the May before. Nine months into our relationship what would our families say?
Steve picked me up outside A&E and I gave him the news. I was four weeks. He was over the moon! It was bitter sweet for him as six months into our relationship his mum passed away suddenly at only 60 years old.
We lived in a small house in Corfe Mullen so house hunting was definitely on the agenda. I wanted to get excited but Steve always held me back he wanted to know the scans were ok. I became big very quickly and at 4ft 11” I looked like a beach ball! We finally found a three bedroom house in Stourpaine, near Blandford which would complete on 06.06.06. We thought at the time that was a bad omen.
The day of the first scan arrived. On this occasion my mum also came along and I got dressed up. I lay on the sonographers couch and the scan commenced. I was not aware anything was wrong, but was told to go for a walk. We popped over to the garage. I was oblivious to the fact that Steve and Mum had concerns. I was only told the baby was not in the right position to scan.
I remember going back into the room to find it full of people. I was given the horrifying news the baby had Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect malformation in which children are often paralysed from the waist down and Ancephaley, a birth defect in which part of the brain and skull is absent. I looked at Steve. As he cried “No!” my dad entered the room just in time to catch him. That face I will never forget.
Mum and Dad went home and Steve took me for lunch. We had an appointment to go back and see our consultant at 2.30pm. It felt like forever. We walked into the clinic room and we were given the devastating news that we would have to terminate. We were informed of the process. It was Wednesday and by Friday I would have given birth.
We went back to my parents’ house. We were moving house on Friday. It was also Steve’s birthday. The process began straight away. I admitted myself to the SPRING suite a day early as I didn’t know what to expect and was very frightened. On Friday I gave birth to a little boy called Riagan. He was born asleep at 11.50pm on 7th June 2006.
I returned to the SPRING suite from delivery in the middle of the night. Somehow we slept, but I woke up very confused. I just wanted to go home. We had visits from lots of members of staff who I have now become extremely close to.
A new chapter began; a mum without her baby. It felt very strange. The grief was overwhelming for us both. We felt alone, confused, devastated. I did not see Riagan and it was a year down the line before I could look at photographs and accept what had happened. I regret this deeply now as I feel like I abandoned him.
I went back to work within a couple of weeks. I loved my job and my work colleagues supported me one hundred per cent. Work felt normal, home didn’t. Our relationship suffered, friends avoided us, finances were low – we struggled a lot.
We then went on to suffer two miscarriages. My work moved me to another department for me to allow myself to have a rest. I was devastated as the only thing that felt normal was my job. I began to receive counselling and saw the Director of Nursing on a regular basis – both of which helped us to get our lives back together.
I fell pregnant again for the fourth time. I carried a little girl who suffered the same problem as Riagan despite being told it wouldn’t happen again. We couldn’t believe it. I gave birth to Bonnie Glynis on the 21st November 2009. The pregnancy was hard. It was a huge blur as I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve properly for Riagan.
As if we hadn’t enough to contend with, Steve’s dad then passed away in intensive care under tragic circumstances. Our lives had completely fallen apart.
Soon after I agreed to become part of a research project into Spina Bifida called the PONTI study (Prevention of Neural Tube Defects by Inositol). I started a drug called Inositol – a vitamin-like substance widely available in health food stores which I took religiously for 3 months and then 16 weeks into each pregnancy. Amazingly it worked! Our son Trent was born 10th February 2010 weighing 5lb 6oz, followed by Ruben born 12th September 2012 weighing 6lb!
I still needed help post births, but our lives have changed for the better. Steve now works with austistic children and I have a dream job in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Maternity Hospital, Poole.
We made it over that rainbow. This story does not reflect the true emotion and heart-break we endured – there aren’t the words to describe the pain of losing our babies – but we are so glad we didn’t give up.
We feel we closed the book on Sunday 13th July 2014 when we had both our boys christened, surrounded by all the family and friends we love, and, as a ‘thank you’, we received donations for SPRING in lieu of presents.
We made it!