Hi everyone, I’m Natalie and my partner Jamie and I lost our baby girl Hallie in March 2018.
I had a straightforward pregnancy - we had our last scan at 20 weeks and all was good. We had everything ready for our first baby to arrive- the nursery was decorated; all clothes hung up in her wardrobe, pram up and ready to go.
I went into labour at 37 weeks and even then everything was fine, all up until I delivered our beautiful baby girl at 6.43pm.
I remember her coming out, them placing her on my chest and her not crying.
The midwife rubbed her body, picked her up off me and then the buzzers went off. The next thing I remember was person after person in scrubs coming into the room and crowding around my baby who was at the other end of the room.
Someone told me “don’t worry, everything will be okay, baby just needs a little help breathing”. I could hear them all dictating what they were doing to her, and lots of beeping and other noises. I remember covering my ears and looking away towards my mum and Jamie instead, who looked on in horror at was happening.
After about 20 minutes one of the doctors came over and told us our girl was very poorly and they could not get her breathing properly. He said he had already gone over the recommended time for resuscitation, but he was going to keep trying. At that point I knew there was no going back, I continued to stare at my mum and Jamie until some time later I heard the dreaded words “Okay, are we all in agreement?” they read aloud the time and staff quickly left the room.
The doctors came back over to us in tears and told us how very sorry they were that they could not save our girl. They didn’t know what the reason was, just that they couldn’t get her heart rate high enough for her to breathe by herself.
We were all in absolute shock. They asked if I wanted to hold her and I just couldn’t. Both our families arrived in what felt like minutes but I couldn’t face any of them. I felt like I had failed at being a Mum. I stayed in the room and my mum and Jamie took her out to the family. After some time I asked for everyone to go and we were taken into the bereavement suite ‘The Butterfly Room’ where there was a double bed for Jamie and I to stay and a cold cot to put Hallie in.
I had diamorphine in labour so I was out of it, I can’t really remember everything that happened next but just wanting to close my eyes and pretend none of this was happening. The next morning staff were coming in and out asking us questions that I never thought we would have to answer. Do you want a post mortem? Where do you want the body to be taken? Will your baby be cremated or buried? Jamie and I stared at them blankly not having a clue what to say or do.
At this point we hadn’t named her even though throughout the pregnancy we had talked about the name Hallie (We named her around a week later). I think part of us wanted to just shut out what was happening. We wanted to be home in our comfort zone. We left the hospital that morning despite staff advising us to stay as long as we wanted to spend time with our baby, something I have regretted every day since.
I remember walking into our house and it feeling ice cold and empty. Jamie’s step dad had been in before us and put everything baby related into the nursery and shut the door. We sat on the couch surrounded by our family (who were our absolute rock) for days and days in utter disbelief.
The coroner called us 6 days later with the results of the post mortem. The cause of death was Laryngeal Atresia – Hallie had a blockage in her throat that meant she couldn’t breathe for herself. We were told this was not genetic, just a serious and rare case of bad luck! If I had a scan later than 20 weeks then it would have been picked up, something I don’t really like to dwell on as we would have then been put in an awful situation of deciding whether to risk operating on Hallie at birth. Research shows there is a very slim chance of surviving the operation.
Although it was a devastating blow to hear, it felt reassuring that 1) it was nothing genetic that had been passed down from us, and 2) we could try again knowing this shouldn’t happen again.
For Jamie and I, the hope of having a rainbow baby was the main thing that got us through last year. Even though what happened to Hallie was the worst case of bad luck, I still feel lucky that we had the chance to try again so soon; as I know for some baby loss mums they haven’t had that chance. We knew we wanted to try for a second baby as soon as we could, and we were extremely fortunate to catch again 3 months later.
Pregnancy after loss was a huge rollercoaster ride. As we caught so quickly, we were still trying to cope with the grief of losing Hallie, as well as looking forward to a new arrival. It felt like a constant balancing act! One minute I was sad for Hallie, then happy for baby number 2, then feeling guilty on Hallie for being happy! For the first half of the pregnancy I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, I didn’t want to open myself up to the possibility of losing again.
We were looked after extremely well by all at the hospital, the staff there have shown such love and support to us throughout everything and we have made some friends for life. We had regular scans and check ups, which felt so reassuring and our little rainbow baby Maisie arrived in January this year after a very long and anxious labour!
The first months after losing Hallie felt like I was in a black hole that I would never ever get out of. I thought I would never smile or be back to being me again.
However, here I am over a year later sat with baby number 2 in my arms and I have finally learnt to love life again. It is a long and rocky road but trust me things do get better. Grief is something you learn to live with and I can now talk about my first-born Hallie with utter pride and a smile on my face.