When I found out I was pregnant with my second child I was over the moon. I hadn’t had an easy ride conceiving my first child. I’d had 3 miscarriages, we tried for ages and I spent the whole 9 months fretting about everything. But all turned out to be fine and in 2008 my perfect baby girl was born.

With this pregnancy I felt calmer. I had googled miscarriage risk and after a live birth my risk was as low as if I’d never had any previously. I felt so much more relaxed, I wasn’t going to spend 9 months fretting and instead just imagined all the things we would do as a family of four.

Over the next few months I enjoyed showing off my bump and feeling those precious kicks.

And then in May 2010 everything changed.

We were on holiday with friends in the lake district and something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t feeling the kicks and just had a sinking feeling, one I can’t quite describe. We phoned the nearest hospital, which was an hour away in Lancaster, and were told to come in for a check up. I expected them to just say “oh you’re fine, go home” but as I got seen by more people the sinking feeling got worse.

It was a bank holiday Monday so the scanning department wasn’t open. So they took me up to the maternity ward where there was an old scanning machine and hooked me up to it. At previous scans I’d seen our little wriggler moving like mad. There was no movement now. I could see him, completely still.

“The image is too grainy” the midwife said “you will need to come back tomorrow when we can scan you properly”

So we headed back to the holiday home. I felt like I had really hit rock bottom. Normally Matt would be telling me to relax, that everything would be ok. But we drove the hour back in silence.

The following morning we were straight back at the hospital. The scanning room felt vast, so much bigger than any scanning room I’d been in before. I don’t know whether it was actually bigger in size or if it was just that I felt so small and vulnerable.

Usually the sonograoher would tilt the screen so you could see it. But this one turned it away from us. She was clicking and clicking. I asked “Is everything OK?” her reply was  “I just need to get a colleague”. She switched off the monitor and left the room.

When the other sonograoher arrived they both looked at the screen and whispered to each other.

The first sonographer turned and said “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat”. In that second what I thought was rock bottom suddenly crumbled away. I fell into a whole world of pain I just couldn’t have imagined, even when I knew in my heart he had gone. They spoke to me about the birth, about holding him, about taking photos. I didn’t hear a word. I was just trying to take breaths. Trying to get through each second.

In hindsight I can only assume it's natures way of protecting you. Like there is no way to feel that kind of pain unless you absolutely have to.

All I could think was I want to be home. I’m in a strange place, I have none of my home comforts. I have none of my support network around me. I asked if we could go home and be induced in Guildford. They told us we could but if labour started on the way back I would need to stop at the closest hospital.

On the drive back I was numb. I texted my friends to tell them what was happening and then asked what they wanted to drink at Emily’s birthday party in a few weeks. I don’t know what was going through my head. We were listening to a CD and although I wasn’t paying any attention, when I hear those songs now they take me straight back. One of them was Lucky by Jason Mraz. Nothing ever felt so ironic.

The room I gave birth in was much less clinical than the one I’d had Emily in. It didn’t have all the equipment and felt like a normal bedroom. After 8 hours our baby was born. My desperate hope that Doctors had made a mistake and actually he was alive quickly evaporated. There were no little cries signaling his arrival. Just a midwife saying “it’s a boy”

“You can hold him if you like” the midwife offered. But I couldn’t. I thought if I cradled him in my arms I would never let him go. So I spoke to him, “I’m sorry” I said and “I love you”.

When they said they'd clean him up and take photos for us I nodded numbly. When it came time to leave we were handed our memory book, the photos, and advice on funerals. Leaving the room I couldn’t go through the maternity ward doors. I felt like once I left that really was it. It was over. So I hovered. Walked slowly. Hovered some more. I could see people looking at me. The midwives at the desk, looking at me sadly because they knew what had happened. And other parents looking at me like I was mad.

I spent the next two months off work just researching stillbirths, reading forums. I knew this was happening to 17 families EVERY DAY! 6500 a year. The majority of these had noticed a reduction in their baby’s movements. A third of them could have been saved just by delivering earlier. It seemed unreal. Why had I never really considered this? There was an inherent assumption that stillbirths only happened in high risk pregnancies, or pregnancies where you know there’s a problem from the start. But I knew now this could not be further from the truth. Only 10% of stillbirths occurred due to a chromosome abnormality. The majority of stillbirths happened in healthy mums and babies, often low risk pregnancies.

That’s why I joined Kicks Count and why I will keep fighting for all the babies like Toby who never got their shot at life.

Last Wednesday we got the news that 2017 had the lowest stillbirth rate on record in the UK. I have no doubt Kicks Count played a part in that and for that brings hope that something good has come out of my experience. 

I am so proud of you, Toby. 

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