I do not need to introduce the following post, other than to say that regular readers will know the background to Every Inch Of Tarmac and the reasoning behind what we as a group are all doing.
If you are not familiar with it, please read the first ever post on this blog – way back in October.
Below is today’s post written by our very good friends whose little sunflower slipped away.
In memory of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella.
Today should be one of the most special days of my life. Today is the due date of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella, who was born sleeping on October 9th 2015. I am writing this piece in honour of her memory, as a way of celebrating her life and the very special time we had together. I am also sharing our journey in the hope that it may help someone else, as learning about other people’s experiences has supported me.
Tuesday 19th May 2015 was the most special day of my life. This was the day I found out I was expecting our first baby. The moment I saw the blue cross on the pregnancy test, I felt my life change in a split second. My every move throughout the day revolved around our baby, wanting to protect as best as I possibly could.
Whilst visiting family in the UK later that month, I had a very light bleed and went to the hospital to be checked. This was the first moment I saw our baby and heard their heartbeat. I remember thinking it was the most special thing I had ever experienced. The hospital gave us the all clear, however I was reminded as this was my first pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage was quite high. Hearing this information made me feel quite anxious, but I tried to remain positive and hoped for the best.
Our 12 week scan was competed in Christchurch, New Zealand as we were away on holiday as part of our first wedding anniversary. This was the first time my husband saw and heard our baby’s heartbeat. I remember feeling anxious before the scan, thinking about the risk of miscarriage and hoping our baby’s heartbeat would be present. It was an incredibly moving and emotional experience again, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing how much they had grown and changed since the early scan. We opted to keep the images and video clips from the scan on a memory stick, of which I am so pleased we did.
A few weeks after we returned from our holiday, I had another light bleed. As soon as I saw the speckles of blood I went into panic mode, petrified this was the start of us losing our baby. We went to A&E to be checked. It was a huge relief to see our baby appear on the screen and their heart was beating. I was told at this point the placenta was low lying and that more than likely this would move up as our baby grew. A huge sense of relief came over me knowing our little baby was safe and well. Around this time I began feeling little flutters which was such a magical feeling.
My birthday arrived in September and I remember thinking that being a mummy was the best gift I could ever wish for. It was the gift of all gifts. A few days later we went for our 20 week scan, although we were closer to 23 weeks. Those initial seconds waiting for our baby to appear on the screen felt forever and I remembering feeling petrified after the recent light bleed. I remember feeling a huge sense of relief again, seeing our baby and hearing their heartbeat. It was amazing to see how much our little baby had grown and developed, and we opted to keep our baby’s sex a surprise for their arrival. We were told our baby was measuring well and everything looked to be fine. I went away feeling reassured and a little more hopeful for the future.
A few weeks later we flew to New York and I struggled quite a bit with swollen feet. I thought this was a combination of flying and a typical sign of pregnancy. I also developed an itching around my belly. I looked into this as I was away from home, and read this was another typical symptom of pregnancy, as the skin stretches to accommodate a baby’s growth. Upon our return home, I obtained medical advice regarding my feet, and was advised to keep my feet up.
Two days later I went to the hospital for a routine check-up with my Obstetrician. We went through the normal checks: weight, blood pressure etc. Since the scan of two weeks prior, my weight had increased rapidly by 4kg. I knew I had been away on a mini-break and had some nice meals out, however I ate healthy and sensibly. It was questioned why my weight had rapidly increased in such a short space of time.
Our Obstetrician said he wanted to complete an ultrasound to check the baby before finishing the appointment. I got on the bed and had the usual feelings of anxiety, worrying if our baby’s heart would be beating. I remember looking up and seeing a dark screen. It remained dark. The usual light image of our baby was not there. My heart sank. I knew immediately something wasn’t right. I was asked when I last felt the baby move and kick, of which I replied yesterday. Our Obstetrician told us he was struggling to find our baby’s heartbeat. My heart sank. The feelings which I had always feared had finally come true.
Our Obstetrician said he wanted us to go for a second scan so we went to the ultrasound department. I was asked by the Sonographer when I last felt baby kick and move, of which I gave the same reply of yesterday. I was told this was not the case and that our baby’s heart was no longer beating. The measurements calculated our baby had passed away possibly one to two weeks prior. Hearing this news shattered both my husband and I. I could not take in what had just been said. Time stood still. I remembering pinching myself, wondering if it was a dream. I couldn’t believe our little baby had gone to sleep.
Going home to tell our parents was incredibly difficult. I could not physically say to my parents what had happened. I felt I had lost the ability to speak. I couldn’t look at my family in the face, I felt so ashamed for what happened. I felt the biggest sense of guilt. I was our baby’s lifeline and felt I had not done the most important job of my life, keeping our baby alive and safe.
We returned to hospital the following day where I was induced. The contractions took some time to appear, and when they did they were incredibly painful. It was the most heart breaking thing to go through, going through labour and knowing your beautiful baby was going to arrive fast asleep. When our baby arrived into the world fast asleep, we learnt we were the very proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. We decided to call her Gabriella. She was beautiful and perfect in every way. Gabriella had her father’s nose and large feet like her mummy. My husband was a huge support and remained by my side throughout our time in hospital. We were also very lucky to have support from our local GP who helped us both during Gabriella’s labour, and once discharged from hospital.
When I was discharged from hospital, I saw a lady cradling her newborn baby, wearing a babygrow which we had got for Gabriella. It was incredibly difficult to see the babygrow on another baby, knowing Gabriella wouldn’t get the chance to wear it. Once home, the following weeks were incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally. I developed mastitis which was incredibly painful. It felt like a kick in the teeth, knowing my body was prepared to feed Gabriella but she was not here to receive it.
Because we live between the UK and overseas, we had to go through the repatriation process. This was another difficult experience for both my husband and I. Seeing Gabriella’s death certificate is indescribable. I think it was that moment, seeing the words on paper, made me realise all of this was real. The three of us flew back to London Heathrow on 3rd November, and were transported to my home town where Gabriella was placed in the Chapel of Rest.
Gabriella’s service was held on November 11th 2015. Laying your baby to rest is something no parent should ever have to do. Cradling Gabriella’s casket in the car on the way to the service was one of the most heart wrenching things I have done. At the same time, I remember thinking it was one of the most special things I could do and would be my last chance to hold her in my arms. The Lion King’s Circle of Life song was played at the end of her service. This was to symbolise one of the last times we were together as a family, watching the Lion King in New York. We also felt the lyrics were poignant to Gabriella’s journey and her life.
We have been incredibly lucky to be under the care of a fantastic Obstetrician who has supported us every step of the way. He has completed all necessary tests, all of which have come back clear. Receiving clear results has left me feeling a mixed bag of emotions, not having any explanations for Gabriella’s loss.
I would like to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you to our families and friends who have helped us through our darkest days. We live within a small community of some very kind and thoughtful people, who have gone the extra mile to take care of us. I am also incredibly lucky to have a couple of very special friends who have checked in on me most days. They have made it their business to keep Gabriella’s spirit alive in conversations, as well as finding various ways of helping me through (introducing me to Tommy’s, forwarding links, books). I am truly grateful for your love and support.
Another avenue of support has been meeting up with the other pregnant mum’s (now mummy’s) from our mums to be group. We began meeting up earlier in the year, once a week, to chat about pregnancy, babies etc. I found this important to continue after laying Gabriella to rest, as it was comforting being around the mums to be and helped me to feel close to Gabriella, knowing the bumps/babies would have been Gabriella’s first friends. Thursdays are the hardest day of the week, as it symbolises a new week in Gabriella’s pregnancy. Therefore meeting up on Thursday mornings helped me through part of the difficult day.
So here we are, January 14th 2016 and the due date of our little baby girl. I hope Gabriella can feel the endless love that is felt for her, and I wish more than anything her journey into the world had begun today. Instead, I am the very proud mummy of a beautiful angel baby who is resting in peace. Today will always be Gabriella’s day and hold a very special place in our hearts.
I hope sharing our journey is of help to others, just as I found support in reading and listening to other people’s experiences. A dear friend has set up numerous fundraising campaigns to raise funds for Tommy’s. You can follow her facebook page ‘Every Inch of Tarmac’. If you would like to make a donation towards the fundraising, which will help Tommy’s medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, you can do so at the following link: http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys