As part of Sands 40th anniversary this year, we will share 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby. Starting during Sands Awareness Month and our #FindingTheWords campaign, we aim to show the sheer number of people who are affected by the tragedy of a baby’s death, help other bereaved parents to understand they are not alone and raise awareness of the issues surrounding stillbirth and neonatal death. Visit our 40 stories for #Sands40 to view other blogs in the series.
I am a 70 year old woman and I had a terrible time when I gave birth to a stillborn little girl.
What I went through, I would never want another woman to go through.
Here’s my story:
In 1967 I was an unmarried mother I gave birth to a little girl who was born with spina bifida. I was unable to keep her so she was fostered.
Later on in the year, I met my husband and we fell in love. He was quite serious about me, so I told him about the baby and he asked me to marry him and take on the baby as his own which we did, so we married later on in the year.
In 1968 I gave birth to a little girl who was stillborn. I knew for a few months that there was something wrong, but no one would listen.
I went into labour and the hospital realised that something was wrong. At first they said I was going to have twins and sent me for an X-ray, and they then realised that the baby was breech.
They tried to turn her but to no avail, so the doctor had to deliver her. It was extremely painful and when it was over they took the baby away. They had given me an injection, so everything was a bit blurred.
A nurse came to me and told the baby had died, and would I give consent for them to take photos as the baby’s skull had not formed.
I said yes, but was shocked to see flashlights from the camera going off, with my daughter just lying there. They could have taken the pictures somewhere else and not in front of me.
My husband came in to see me and all he could say was “Are you happy, darling?” with a big smile on his face.
I could not believe no one had told him the baby was dead. I had to do it. And then to crown it all they put me in a ward where mothers had their babies beside them.
It broke my heart and one woman told me to shut up. When I returned home I was horrified to see all the baby things were gone. This was due to an aunt clearing everything away.
So now I had to come to terms with my loss and my husband took it badly. We went to the undertakers and we could not afford a coffin, as my husband was ill with TB.
My little girl was put in coffin with someone else.
In all that time I was never given counselling. Even after all these years I still find it hard as I have no birth or death certificate.
15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. We want to reduce this number, but we need your help. Support Sands now to help ensure a bereaved parent doesn't have to cope alone. Thank you.