“Scarlotte Hope Walton, born 25th February 2013 at 6.30pm. Weighing 7lb 14oz. Mum and baby are doing well.”

You could say that’s a pretty standard birth announcement and I wish I could say they were our words, but they’re not….Mum and Baby were not well. Mums entire world had been shattered, Scarlotte was stillborn.

When my first son was just 15 months old we found out we were expecting another baby, a lovely little suprise! I had only just really got my head around having my first baby and as postnatal depression had made my transition into parenthood a bit harder, I was worried how I would cope with two young children. However, from early on I had a sense I was having a girl and when the scan confirmed this I was so excited to be expecting a daughter. I have always believed that there is no bond like a mother and daughters, and she would have an older brother, like I did, to look out for her…perfect!

The pregnancy was relatively straightforward, apart from the normal sickness, tiredness etc, I also suffered from recurrent chest infections. But, it was always me that felt a bit rubbish, Scarlotte was always fine. In the later stages of pregnancy I didn’t feel quite right but I couldn’t put my finger on it, my community midwife thought the same. I was sent into hospital a couple of times for blood tests and CTG’s and all was fine, I was reassured – Of course things were alright. There was definitely something that was not quite right though…I never felt the urge to prepare for her arrival like I had done with my first. I put it down to being a chilled out second time Mum at the time, I had a lot of baby bits left from my son and I didn’t really need to do anything. Looking back all this fills me with guilt, perhaps I should’ve listened to my body more? Would things have been different? They say hindsight is a wonderful thing, don’t they? I did, however, end up buying her one babygrow, it had….”Mummy’s little Angel” on the front.

Saturday 23rd February was like any other day, nothing stood out as different….Scarlotte was moving as normal. I was looking forward to Sunday 24th February. My husband was going stay at home with my son while I had a child free mooch around the shops with my Mum – one of my very favourite things to do! He had also let me have a lie in that morning. When I woke up I thought Scarlotte was a bit quiet but I’m sure I felt a little movement so didn’t think much of it. I just got on with the day. It was pretty normal not to feel movements when I was busy, especially when I was walking around so again I didn’t think about it very much (looking back…another guilt filled moment. There’s quite a few of those!) It wasn’t until I got back to my parents house where they were cooking us a Sunday roast, I thought I better actually really have a concentrate on her movements.

The midwife in me kicked in, I tried the usual tricks to get them to move…I had a cold drink, ate something sugary, gave her a good poke and then went for a lay down. I thought while I was having lie down it would be good opportunity to order an Ocado shop to be delivered the next day (!)….I wasn’t overly concerned, I’m sure she’d be alright, just being a bit quiet. After all…bad things happen to other people, don’t they?! The classic thing crossed my mind, I really didn’t want to bother my colleagues. I knew how busy they’d be. It got to the point when I hadn’t felt any movements at all that I thought perhaps I should just go and get checked out. I never really thought anything would be wrong….at worse maybe she’d be in a bit of distress and I would have to be delivered (how ignorant!).

My husband drove me to the hospital, as I was 39+ weeks I thought we better stop at home to get my hospital bag, just in case. There was no sense of urgency. It was then a 45 minute drive to the hospital. On the way, while prodding my tummy I said to my husband that I still hadn’t felt her move and how odd it was. We got to the hospital and of course I was dying for a wee…so to the toilet I went. Wasting even more time…or delaying the inevitable? On the way a friendly couple stopped and wished me luck, it was then that it hit me a bit…I think I was going to need some. When we got to the triage I greeted my colleagues, luckily they were not too busy and I felt a little bit relieved, I wasn’t going to be wasting too much of their time. We were shown into the room and after providing the obligatory urine sample I lay on the bed, I was nervous. I knew the drill. The doppler was put on, repositioned and repositioned again….silence.

I knew instantly then that she had gone. I had listened to plenty of term babies and even if the heart beat is not picked up straight away there is usually some kind of noise, placental flow, movement, even maternal heart beat….complete silence. A scan was performed, perhaps it was just not picking up the heart beat and the scan would show her heart beating. I tried to cling on to a glimpse of hope that this would be the case but unfortunately I knew it was unlikely. No heart beat was seen on the scan….a doctor then came to do another scan, it was only then that it was said out loud. “I’m sorry, there’s no heart beat”. Another doctor came in and confirmed this. I had been holding it all in until then, at least if I didn’t cry and everything was alright I wouldn’t have looked silly! It poured out, I don’t remember the sound I made. I can imagine it was pretty horrendous. In my husbands arms all I remember is closing my eyes tightly and covering my face with my arms, hoping that when I looked around again things would be different. But all I saw with my eyes closed was a tiny white coffin. Then the realisation of what was coming next hit me. I knew what to expect, after all I had been on the other side. I knew I would have to be induced and give birth to a dead baby. I begged the doctors for a cesarean, I just couldn’t do it. She said that I knew they wouldn’t be able to do that, and I did. My husband phoned my Mum, he knew she’d be worried. I don’t think he knew the words to say and the next thing I knew I was holding the phone in a complete state saying two words….”she’s gone”.

My Mum dropped everything to be with us at the hospital, leaving my son with my Dad, brother and sister in law. An agonising 45 minute journey I can imagine. We were moved to the bereavment suite, somewhere I never once imagined I would have to use. I was given the option to go home or stay to be induced. I wanted the labour over with asap so I choose to stay and be induced that night. As inductions often are, it was a long and painful process. We didn’t get much sleep that night and I remember just staring at this one piece of art work on the wall for hours. It’s funny because I couldn’t tell you now what it looked like! It wasn’t until Monday morning I really started contracting properly. My waters broke by themselves. I was hysterical when I saw the colour and knew she had done a poo inside. Knowing that babies can do this when they are in distress, I was utterly convinced she must’ve been in some kind of distress/pain when she died. In reality this of course is normal thing to happen when you die…sometimes knowing too much is not a good thing. I knew as soon as it was possible I wanted an epidural, the mental pain was too much to cope with. I knew I couldn’t deal with the physical pain too. I was taken to a delivery room and prepped for an epidural. Sitting on the edge of the bed, hugging my pillow, back curved, the consultant anaesthetist came in the room….he said they couldn’t give me an epidural. I thought this was a really insensitive time to start joking around, expecting him to just carry on with the procedure. But he didn’t, apparently my white blood cell count was too high and given the nature of an epidural I would be at a high risk of getting an infection. By this time I wanted to just be knocked out. How on earth was I going to do this with no pain relief? I begged for anything, and lots of it! They gave me a PCA which meant I could give myself a dose of morphine every 5 minutes. And I made sure I did, on the dot! I was pretty out of it in between contractions, which was good for me as it made time go by quite quickly. For my husband and mum it must’ve been horrific watching me go through that for so long. I think I shouted out some pretty harrowing things in pain too. In hindsight, being able to feel her come out when the time came to push was good. It made her feel all that bit more real. We chose not to see her straight away but I didn’t need to, I felt her. At 6.30pm on 25th February 2013, Scarlotte came into the world…silent. It was the single most agonising experience, when your baby is born but the room stays deadly quiet.

We were moved back to the bereavment suite that evening to get some rest. I was unsure when or if I wanted to see Scarlotte. Frightened of what she would look like and the prospect of having to pysically say goodbye and leave her all by herself. Once I saw pictures of her I realised there was nothing to be scared of. I was convinced to go and see her, and now I’m pleased I did. In all honesty….She was bruised, her lips were dark, her nose was squashed and she had no tone to her face but she was absolutely beautiful. She was my little girl.

I had absolutely no concept at the time how different my life would be from then on. It had be divided into two parts….before Scarlotte died and after. ‘After’ appeared to be a lot darker and it began with having to make some pretty hard decisions. I never thought I’d ever, in my life, have to decide what colour handles my child’s coffin had…….TBC at https://scarlottehope.wordpress.com