My journey was not easy and I do feel that if I could have maybe had some help earlier when I asked for it then I wouldn’t have ended up in the state that I did.

Behind every family is an individual story.

No journey to parenthood is ever the same. Parents who experience pregnancy after the loss of a baby are faced with nine months of anxiety, challenge and uncertainty. With the relaunch of our Rainbow Project, we want those families to know that we understand. Kate tells us her story.

In 2011 I finally became pregnant after trying for two years. It was a pretty stressful pregnancy- it was established that Charlie may have a chromosomal abnormality at 12-weeks. This was confirmed to be Down Syndrome at 19 weeks, which was the best outcome for us. It meant that he'd survive.

Sadly, Charlie died at 26 weeks on the 26th August and was stillborn on the 28th August.

I struggled massively with my mental health after Charlie died and asked time and time again for some help. I was told by my GP that there was nothing out there. I went for my 6-week check after Charlie was born and all they offered me was anti-depressants - I wasn’t depressed, I was grieving the loss of my child. I ended up having counselling through my job which helped, but I don’t think it really helped me deal with what had happened.

After every storm there is a rainbow of hope

We fell pregnant again in June 2012 and that was a very stressful pregnancy, resulting in a lot of hospital trips with reduced movement. The last week of the pregnancy I was booked in daily for monitoring which was purely for my mental health.

Looking back I don’t know how I got through the last few weeks, I was terrified that this baby would die too.

Oscar was born in February 2013 not breathing very well but, thankfully, after a short stay in the NICU, he was returned to us. 

After Oscar was born the thought of doing it all again terrified me. However, we decided to try again sooner rather than later. By November 2013, I was pregnant again. That pregnancy was slightly better, but there were moments of fear and a number of trips to MAU for reduced movement. Felix was born in July 2014.

In December 2017 I was pregnant again. As we were six years on, I genuinely felt this time would be better. To remove reminders of the stress of previous pregnancies, I chose to go to a different hospital. I wanted this pregnancy to feel completely new. I had mixed experiences with medical professionals - once being told, ‘I don’t know why you’re worrying as you’ve had 2 babies born alive now, stop focusing on the one you lost’. When I went in for reduced movement I had amazing care in the MAU, and again I was booked in every other day for the last 2 weeks. Otto was born in July 2018.

Movement matters

Things were best in my lastest pregnancy, things are getting better. There was a specific reduced movement pathway the hospital followed and I was monitored more because of losing Charlie.  Everybody I saw mentioned that I must be seen if I had reduced movement. The Maternity Assessment Unit was so easy to contact and nothing was too much trouble, I never felt that I couldn't go in. I didn't feel that in my earlier pregnancies.

I was a lot more vigilant in my rainbow pregnancies and I spent a lot of time on the CTG monitor.

The toll it takes

I had a couple of periods of being on anti-depressants after Felix was born and I was later diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist. I don’t think that I ever really dealt with what happened to Charlie and how I felt in the subsequent pregnancies.

My mental health was hugely affected I became a completely different person and hugely irrational.

Generally, I don’t feel that I was offered enough support. In my most recent pregnancy though, I was better looked after. That can only be a positive. 

The Kicks Count Rainbow Project is important

I would have loved one of the bundles during my rainbow pregnancies.

The fact that that the project acknowledges that rainbow pregnancies are stressful, and can cause people mental health issues, is a massive improvement. I think that charities like Kicks Count make a massive difference. I don’t think everyone appreciates how hard rainbow pregnancies are - anything that can help is a definite bonus.