My first daughter, Evie, was stillborn on Thursday 18th June 2015.

When my husband and I found out we were having a baby, we were over the moon, although a little surprised as I fell much quicker than we’d anticipated. I was having a textbook pregnancy with few symptoms and loved being pregnant.

I’d used a home Doppler a handful of times throughout my third trimester, we loved being able to listen to her heartbeat for as long as we wanted. I didn’t do it for reassurance at first, it was purely for fun and to feel even closer to her.

When I started to near 40 weeks my midwife started stretch and sweeps as she knew how keen I was for Evie to be born. She had also been head down and fully engaged for well over 4 weeks. I had a routine midwife appointment on the Tuesday and Evie was still sitting perfectly. My midwife was surprised I hadn’t gone into labour yet, but wasn’t worried. She gave me another stretch and sweep to help things along. I was now 40+6 and had my induction booked for 5 days later. I was so excited that we’d be meeting our baby soon.

I woke up in the early hours of Thursday morning around 3am and I didn’t feel right, I felt unsettled but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.I went downstairs and sat on my pregnancy ball, after a few minutes of knowing that Evie’s movements had changed I got out the Doppler and tried to listen for her. The Doppler gave me something to hold on to, I was convinced I could hear her heartbeat so after quite some time I went back to bed, still not feeling right but telling myself she was fine.

I told my husband she wasn’t moving as much but I was sure she would after I’d had some breakfast so I sent him to work (50 miles away) I had breakfast but still wasn’t feeling any movement and I kept reminding myself that I’d heard her on the Doppler. I called the labour ward who told me to come in.

After arriving at the hospital alone I was seen by a midwife who tried to listen for her heartbeat but found nothing. I told my husband to come to the hospital straight away. I was then taken to a room to have a sonogram and they didn’t find her heartbeat. My baby had died. They had to do two further sonograms to be sure but I knew what they’d find. I looked at the screen and saw the chambers of her heart were still, there was no life, her life slipped through my fingers after getting so close. After my husband arrived we were given the option to go home for labour to start, but I opted to be induced. I couldn’t fathom going home still being pregnant but with a dead baby inside me. I didn’t feel right to me to walk over the threshold like that. After she was born we were so lucky to be able to spend 3 days with her and I am ever grateful to the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital who cared for us so deeply and compassionately.

We were incredibly lucky to fall pregnant again, but this time I wouldn’t go anywhere near a Doppler and I warned others against them. I am sure they had I known how misleading they are I might have acted differently and gone to the hospital sooner, my daughter might still be here. I now know that no matter how silly or what an inconvenience you might feel that you most certainly are not. A midwife would rather see you 100 times and reassure you properly than for you to worry or use a home Doppler and not know what you’re listening for. Learn your baby’s routine and trust your gut, and if in doubt go and be checked straight away. Never wait. I wish I could say that I acted straight away and my daughter was born safe and alive, but somethings just aren’t meant to be.

Vicki McNelly