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Coping after Stillbirth & How to Remain Positive for the Future?

(9 Posts)
vickym86 Mon 05-Sep-16 16:15:00

4 weeks ago our first baby, our daughter Sophie, was stillborn at 41 + 2. It was a complete shock; she was kicking away on the Friday night and by the Saturday morning when I got up I noticed that she hadn't woke up with me like she normally would. For reassurance we thought we'd nip down to the local maternity triage unit and it was there that we found out the devastating news that we had lost her. We were shocked at how apparently sudden this had been, to not have experienced any pains or bleeding or abnormal movement, and then to go to bed and lose her in the night is impossible to get my head around, I feel angry that I didn't get a chance to even try and save her. Like many mums whose stories I've read online, we had a completely healthy pregnancy and never even thought that this would happen to us. My blood pressure and pulse were up on what they normally were but not outside of normal range, the baby was growing fine at each check up, I was negative for GD and movements had all been consistent. And then this awful thing happened and it's left me completely lost and analysing every last detail of my pregnancy - after all, something must have been missed right? - and Googling what could have caused this senseless tragedy.

We have to wait until December for the PM results, the only thing I know is that my bloodwork all came back fine - I had no infections that could have caused this. The midwife remarked on my notes that the placenta was pale and gritty, and there was meconium in the waters when they broke but they said that the baby could have poo'd after she'd passed away? Was she just saying that to not worry me?

I'm really struggling to get my head around what has happened to us, I keep thinking of all the what ifs. What if I had gone into labour earlier? What if my BMI was 40 and not 39.9 and therefore I'd have been under consultant care? What if I had requested a 2nd sweep that week on the Friday like I had been contemplating? With Sophie being our first I had no idea what it was like to be pregnant, nothing to compare it to, and ironically only a few days before this happened I commented to my husband that I felt really pressured as a mother to be able to know how often the baby had moved and whether it was normal for her. Sophie was quite irregular in her movements, some days she would be quieter than others but she had her little pattern of times of day which she kicked more during and things that I'd do which would set her off, like rest a cup of tea on my belly. Looking back now I'm wondering whether I missed a slow decrease in her movement? My husband is telling me that I need to believe in my natural mothering instincts, as on the Saturday morning that we found out I had woken him up at 7.30am to go to the hospital and that I must have knew something wasn't the same, so therefore I should trust that I knew something was wrong with her. And yet despite the lack of movement that morning neither of us was expecting this news, I guess we thought that everything was ok and that it'd probably be fine - in fact we put the hospital bag in the car in case they decided to induce us!

Anyway, I'd really like to hear from other parents who've gone through this to hear your stories and how you coped? I'm still on maternity leave until May next year and my employer is continuing to pay me, so I don't need to rush back to my job. But I'm worried what I will be like once my husband goes back to work next week...

How do you remain positive for the future? I don't know whether this is a completely normal reaction, but I'm desperate to try again for another baby but terrified to do so until we get the PM results in December. What if they find something wrong with me? And despite getting pregnant on the first try with this baby, I'm worried that it won't be as quick for us next time. Will I be able to cope with the disappointment?

I've always been one to think about the future and my husband and I would love to talk about our plans for our family, and now I feel like I daren't get myself too excited about anything in the future because look how close we were to it and then we lost it sad Someone said one of the hardest things about grieving for a stillborn child is that you're left grasping at something permanently just out of reach, that might have been, that should have been, that wasn't. And this is certainly how I feel at the moment.

I don't expect that we'll ever completely heal from this, it will always be something we think about and get upset over. But how do you move on with your lives, without feeling that you're disrespecting her memory?

We're on a waiting list for counselling through the hospital, that can take 4 months they've said, so we're going to our first SANDS meeting on Wednesday. Has anyone got any experience of those meetings?


(If anyone going through this lives near the Wirral please let me know if you are interested in meeting up).

somefarawaydream Mon 05-Sep-16 16:25:12

I'm sorry I can't be of any help but I am terribly sorry for your loss.

flowers for you and your gorgeous girl Sophie

BipBippadotta Mon 05-Sep-16 17:19:27

I am so, so sorry for the loss of your Sophie.

My Dh and I lost our daughter (also our first) nearly 2 years ago, at 40 + 4 after a completely textbook healthy pregnancy. Very similar situation to yours except that in our case she became very active the night before I went into labour (the consultant who'd seen me that day struggled to get a heartbeat because she was moving so much and eventually gave up (!) - she assured me this was a good sign of a lively baby and nothing to worry about). I went into labour naturally the next day and when my waters broke they were full of meconium. We arrived at hospital to find we'd lost her.

The cause of death was a ruptured umbilical cord - she'd got tangled up and it was wrapped around her very tightly 3 times and had eventually burst. She was completely chromosomally normal, no underlying health problems. It was just a freak accident.

I went through all the guilt and 'what ifs' that you're going through, and it's terrible. Should I have had the stretch and sweep? Should I have let them induce me at 40 weeks? You have so much conflicting advice in pregnancy - the NHS strongly recommending induction, the NCT insisting that induction will cause your baby to be born before it's ready and cause grave health problems for both of you... all we've got to go on at the end of the day is luck and judgement. And if everything's gone perfectly well throughout the pregnancy, there's just no reason to believe random tragedy is going to strike. It doesn't make sense. Nobody prepares you for that possibility. It's just not on your radar. You've got your hospital bag packed and you're pretty much at the finish line - you're mainly worried about how labour is going to go. That's how it was for me, at any rate.

You were a completely responsive and responsible mother: you did pick up that something was wrong, and you acted on it as soon as you became aware. You acted with love, and you did everything right. Things just go wrong. It's senseless.

As for grief - I think my husband and I were in shock, really, for several months. We decided to TTC straight away, and unfortunately that's not worked out very well for us - we've had 3 miscarriages since then, and I'm in the early stages of another pregnancy now and if I'm honest I'm fairly depressed about it, just mentally preparing for another loss. It had taken us nearly 2 years to conceive our daughter, so we weren't expecting to have an easy time, but it has been very hard. If it helps at all, I didn't feel this way in my first pregnancy after the stillbirth. It was only 4 months on, and while I was anxious, it felt positive and hopeful to me to be pregnant again.

You're absolutely right about stillbirth feeling like grasping at something permanently out of reach. It sometimes feels like I'm still pregnant with her, still waiting for her to arrive. I have dreams all the time that I go back to the hospital and collect her - there's been some mix up and she was fine all along.

The first anniversary was hard. Coming up on the second anniversary I feel much calmer. I can't really describe it. I think of her often, but I don't think so much of her in terms of the future I imagined for her, but in terms of the time she was with us. I think about my pregnancy, and how happy we were to be expecting her. I feel much more calmly sad now, whereas there have definitely been times when I felt quite frantic with grief and fear. I think the only thing to do is just let it work through you. Just be as loose as you can and let yourself feel whatever you feel.

In terms of moving forward, what's been helpful for us has been to find a project we can both work on, to feel like our lives have some momentum but without forgetting about our daughter. We've moved to a new city, which has been a huge relief - not constantly having to run into all the women from my antenatal classes and their growing families has made an immensely positive difference to how I feel leaving the house every day.

How are you feeling physically? Like you I took my full maternity leave, and when my husband went back to work I was a loose end. I threw myself into training for a sponsored walk for charity with a friend, and it was really helpful to get out into the countryside and feel the sunshine on my face. It's natural to think about the future - after all it's what you were doing for the whole time you were pregnant. But I found in the first months afterwards, trying to get through the present was the main thing. We booked lots of weekends away, just to get a bit of a change of scene. We cried our way through Norfolk, and Yorkshire, and Gloucestershire. We have some very lovely, if sad, memories of those times. I did a lot of cooking and looking after us both.

Sorry, this has been an epic post. But I know what a really horrible experience you're going through, and my heart goes out to you. Huge hugs to you and your husband.

Alb1 Mon 05-Sep-16 22:25:49

So sorry about your baby flowers

Our daughter was stillborn at 35 weeks just over 4 months ago, I still struggle with the what ifs, I think I always will, particularly as our baby had been ill for a little while and we just didn't no it, so she could have easily been saved, and that haunts me. I also struggle with the worlds reaction to it, people don't no what to say so they either pretend it never happened or avoid me, just 4 months on people assume we've moved on. I deal with that by just trying to be comfortable with remembering her, it's painful thinking about her but I just don't want me and my husband to stop talking about her. Other than that I just try and keep busy.

We're incredibly lucky to have a DS so we have to carry on for him. But we have to carry on and try and work to be happy, otherwise the only thing to ever come of her life will be sadness, and I don't want that. I no that sounds stupid but that's just how I try and encourage myself to do it.

We too decided to TTC straight away, it's tough tho, it isn't happening yet, don't think I'm even ovulating yet even though my periods are back to normal, and it's so difficult to deal with.

Sorry my post isn't much help, probably hasn't been long enough for us for me to be helpful. But your not alone, just keep talking to your husband and try and take comfort in eachother

vickym86 Wed 07-Sep-16 11:39:48

Thank you both for your replies, it's heartbreaking that we are all going through this.

Physically I'm ok, I had a water infection and then a uterine infection after the birth but those cleared in a couple of weeks with antibiotics. I'm lucky in a sense that I didn't need any stitches or have any lasting physical damage but that's little consolation compared to what we've lost. I definitely want to focus on getting fit once the GP has signed me off at my 6 week appointment, I'm intending to take my full maternity leave to try and get in better physical shape before we TTC again as even though I had no health issues with my weight during this pregnancy I do need to get my BMI down a lot.

When did you get your first periods back after birth? I actually got mine 4 weeks after, I wasn't sure that it was at first, but it's got all the signs. I was just expecting it to be a bit later that's all!

DollyBarton Wed 07-Sep-16 11:44:17

A most awful and unfair thing to have happen and have to go through. Devastating. And simply not your fault. It could have happened to any of us.

BipBippadotta Wed 07-Sep-16 12:13:07

My first period arrived about 10 weeks after the birth. But I had postpartum bleeding / lochia for about 6 weeks. I'd had a c section so this could have had something to do with it.

I'd say go easy on the exercise - my joints didn't go back to normal for nearly a year after pregnancy, and I injured myself trying to get back into a rigorous exercise regime. Walking turned out to be the best thing.

How are you doing otherwise?

amyboo Fri 09-Sep-16 07:32:10

It's been a long time since I posted on this boards, but I saw the title of your post and I couldn't ignore it. I lost my DS2 at 37 weeks in 2012. Some days it feels like yesterday... I've gone on to have DS3 (now 3.5) and DD1 (nearly 1) since.

It's not for everyone I guess, but the only way DH and I were able to keep going was to try for another baby straight away. I got pregnant again 3 months after losing DS2. I'm not 100% sure I'd recommend it as my pregnancy with DS3 was quite stressful - I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at 10 weeks (possibly this is what caused us to lose DS2 as my thyroid levels were fine at 6 weeks and then went crazy and were only checked as part of a medical examination for a new job, otherwise it might have gone undiagnosed again), I was hospitalised with a subchorionic haematoma (blood clot between the uterus and the placenta) at 16 weeks and we thought we were losing him, then he was born at 30 weeks and had to spend 6 weeks in the neonatal unit. So, all in all it was a stressful journey. But, for us, we had such a big hole in our lives that we knew we had to try and fill it with another baby. It didn't help that we'd just moved house and so had this huge 4 bedroom house with just us and DS1 in it.

I also took my full maternity leave and used it to throw myself into doing things around the house, spending time with DS1 and generally trying to keep busy. I have to say that like some others posted above, I found it really hard to see some of my friends who were pregnant or had recently had babies. In fact, I would say that I almost made a break with my past life and started again. I almost felt like my friends didn't know what to say to me - they didn't want to talk about DS2 (Thomas) as they thought it might upset me. But what upset me more was people not talking about him like he'd been a real person. They maybe never got to meet him but DH and I did....

I think that's the hardest thing with stillbirth - it's such a personal grief and it can be really hard for others to know how to deal with. FWIW, one of the best things I did was another couple that had gone through the same. Not only did it give me someone to talk to who knew how I was feeling, but it gave me someone to hold my hand through my subsequent pregnancies. And her and her DH are now some of our closest friends...

I'd definitely consider getting your thyroid levels tested as/when you do get pregnant again. Hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed (it's also what caused my friend to lose her daughter at 38 weeks).

dundeebabe Mon 14-Nov-16 21:22:21

hi i have just read your message and im sorry to hear of your loss. i myself lost my daughter on the 27th october everything was going well i went for routine appiintment at 28 weeks and no heartbeat. my bp was right up and it was pre eclapsia but i keep blaming myself and i dont no what to do with myself as my partner went back to work today and im still off work on maternity leave hope we can be of some help

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