Hello, my name is Jordan, and I am a befriender Leicestershire & Rutland Sands. My story maybe a little long, but I like to write in some detail what happened. I believe, as a father and a befriender, it is vital to detail those moments from a dads perspective.
Early in 2014, my soon-to-be wife fell pregnant. We were thrilled by the news. I attended all of the midwife appointments and scans that I could. Watching my baby grow was truly amazing and I looked forward to the day that I would meet my child.
The pregancy itself, for the most part, was pretty straight forward. Minimal morning sickness (that I recall) and very few health concerns except some heartburn. Everything was going smoothly until around 35/36 weeks. A fast heart rate drew our community midwifes attention and we made our way too the hospital for a quick check up. The culprit was a sugary breakfast (or so we thought at the time) and our baby boy had settled down with a normal heart rate.
A few more weeks had passed and my partners bump had not grown. She had been measuring ahead for most of the way but her growth had seemingly stopped. Our community midwife assured us that there was nothing to worry about, so we continued as normal.
A few more weeks passed and we had a change of community midwife. Fresh eyes on our file. She completed the usual checks and was not happy with my partners bump not growning since week 35/36. So, she conacted the MAU and booked us in for a growth scan that day for a check up. We arrived and had the scan was completed. All came back normal and okay. Esitmated weight was around 6lbs 13ozs. Before leaving, our community midwife had booked us in for a membrane sweep as we were about to pass 40 weeks and she wanted to try and induce labour.
On Tuesday, my partner said she was having small tighting around her bum area. We found out it can happen that labour starts in the area. I was so excited, so I left work came straight home.
On the thursday, my partner had the mebrane sweep. It must of been uncomfortable for her. Again, our baby boy had a fast heart rate. She continued to monitor him and he finally settled down.
Saturday arrived and my partner had noticed reduced movements and was concerned. She has been taking plenty of warm baths to help easy any pain she was having. After a little while, we contacted the MAU for help. We went through the usual routine of cold water and so on and was advised to call back again if nothing changed. An hour or 2 later we called back and we were told to come in for a check up. It was a late, chilly, October evening. We were overdue by some time. 41+4 weeks. I still thought nothing was wrong. I had no reason to believe otherwise. I had never heard of a stillbirth except in my early teens when my brother expericencd a stillbirth for himself many many years ago.
We arrvied at the General Hospital. We were greeted by a young midwife on duty that evening. It was around 11:30pm. We were directed into a delivery suite and she began the process of finding our boys heartbeat. After a few minutes, she calmly said that she was going to find a doctor to complete an ultrasound as she was unable to locate a heartbeat. PANIC!
The doctor entered the room with all the equipment needed. She began scanning. After what seemed like no time at all and at the same time, ages, she turned too us and said what we were beggining to fear;
"I'm so sorry, there is no heart beat"
My memory has alway been very fuzzy at that moment. I do however remember stairing at the screen, my vision tunneled on an image of our son, lying still. Dead. I wanted to run away. I stood up and asked for a minute alone; everyone assumed they meant for themselves too leave, but I wanted to leave. Everyone cleared the room and left my partner and I in room. We were in bits. My partner instantly blamed herself. I tried to reassure her that It wasn't her fault. Norhing I could say or do at that moment, short of some miracle would make that moment any better.
Our midwife said somthing that will always stick with me, in a positive way, she said
" Are you okay... of course you're not okay"
She wanted to be compassionate and support us but she also knew that in that moment, it was meaningless. She mentioned Sands as a charity to us, we had never heard of them. She also briefly went over the details of what was going to happen. We were then giving the option to go home. We ponded the offer and took it. Staying overnight didn't make much sense at the time to me. We headed home with the knowledge that our son had died. We sat in silence. Nothing can make this better and we had no idea what to expect.
Sunday morning arrived. We had kind of slept and we began packing our things for the days ahead. I was on my own at this point, downstairs with a teddy bear and I was starting to breakdown. I heard the footsteps of my partner coming downstairs as she had collected all the things that she needed and her mum had just arrived. I collected my things and composed myself. I have no memory of the car jounrey. I have little memory of the first day in the Garden Room.
We arrived back at the General. We were ushered into a room called the Garden Room. A dedicated room for parents going through what we were going through. It was a nice, quite room with access to an outside courtyard area with tables and chairs. (not that we would use them as it was late autumn and very cold).
The hormone drip had started and my partner had survived on paraceamol for pain relief up to 6cms. She was amazing.
Despite our situation, we focused on playing Trivial Pursuit on my ipad. Which, with no pun intended, does seem trivial but It gave us a focus for an hour. She won! Even during labour, my partner was smarter than me!
I don't recall much else from the day. My partner had an epidural placed for pain relief. The hormone drip was steadily increasing and we had to deliver on the ward... with the sound of crying babies and heart beat traces pinging all over the place. I was in a dreary, zombiefied state. I roamed the halls with almost no purpose. I tried to switch off my brain but I could't. The sound tore through me.
Time was dribbling by. My partner had some sleep. I had grabbed a few hours whilst the drip worked it's magic. Our midwife from the night before was back on duty and was assigned to us. We liked her and at moments, she helped us forget where we were. Which, however brief, was a much needed escape.
The time had arrived. It was time to push. From our midwife saying push to our son being born was a short time.
At 01:08, weighing 6lbs 7 1/2ozs, William Jack was born.
I felt nothing.
I didn't cry. I didn't want to look at him. I sat in silence for a few moments. I felt nothing.
After a few hours of waiting and bathing, I was asked if I wanted to put a nappy and dress William. It was tough but for a short time, I was able to feel like a dad to William. I would never be able to do it again. So to have the oportunity was a memory I can hold and remember forever.
My time there will always be mixed emotionally. I watched my son being born, but never take a breath. We recived amazing care from the General that will always stick with me with positive memories because of the amaxing midwives that cared for us during the 3 days we were there. Without Sands, I would never have had the chance to hold William on my own, hours and hours after he was born, hold him and tell him how much I love him and importantly, I was able to say goodbye.
Since William's arrival, and the memories we made together whilst in hospital, I have gone on too help raise money and awareness of Sands at my place of work. I have had many dark moments in grief but I am still here today to share my story with you, the reader.
I have reached a point where I was able to complete my befriender training and be able to support grieving families if I can, the same way I was supported.
If you would like to see more or be social with me then you can on Facebook or Instagram. My facebook account is my Sands account and the Instagram account is my blog style account, and details my story in bitesize chunks.
Facebook - Befriender Account
Instagram - Stillbirthstory
Thank you for reading.
Jordan. Father to William and George.
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