This month is SANDS Awareness month and so today we are sharing one readers story of how the charity has helped them deal with their loss. SANDS is raising awareness of the unimaginable effect the death of a baby can have on families, and encouraging the public to speak more openly about baby death. It takes strength and courage to share these stories and charities such as SANDS are of great support during these difficult times.

I have written this blog post to share my pregnancy loss story to hopefully help break the ‘taboo’ of talking about such subjects, raise awareness and also because I found comfort in similar posts last year so I wanted to try to do the same for others that may sadly go through something similar.

On 19th August 2016 at 22 weeks and 4 days pregnant I went into labour. I’d had spotting throughout the day which I’d had before and midwife had said can be normal and also lower back pain but since trapping a nerve in my back 3 years before this is normal for me too. Plus we had spent the day in the car travelling from home in Hove, Brighton to see friends in York so I put it down to being stuck in the car all day. That evening I bleed so went straight to York hospital and was told that my waters were about to break and they couldn’t stop it plus as I was earlier than 24 weeks they wouldn’t be able to help the baby. This was went I went into hysterics and the my husband, the nurse and gas & air that I was on helped with the pain but also help calm me down. Everything happened very quickly from there. Our baby was born and lived for 27 minutes. York hospital have a Sands sponsored room at the end of their maternity ward and we spent the night there. The next morning after speaking with the consultant we decided to have a full post mortem to give the best chance of trying to find out what had happened. We also decided to have our baby cremated and we have scattered the ashes on the South Downs near us where we like to walk our dog.

The next few months went by in a blur, straight away we travelled back from York and went to France for 10 days with family and then a few days on our own. That really helped get us away from our our ‘normal’ routine and also having a lot of people and our 10 month old puppy with us gave us some distractions. We had three weeks off work in total and when we got back we were luckily able to register birth and death in Brighton rather than travelling to York. In October we got the post mortem results and met with a consultant to discuss. The main finding had been a infection in my placenta and he concluded either that had caused the cervix to become weaker and go into labour or weak cervix allowed the infection in which caused labour. He also went through a future plan. A month later on 19th September we had a quiet lunch out with our puppy for our one year wedding anniversary. Work helped distract me and the next milestone was 19th December which would have been my due date. Christmas and New Year passed by and I felt like coming into the new year really helped me put distance behind what had happened and looking forward.

I spent the end of last year being angry, looking for a reason/cause and asking ‘why me’ until I realised why not me? I have had amazing support from family, friends and colleagues and a friend sent me a quote that resonated and helped me “nothing last forever. This pain won’t last. The pain tells you it will last. Pain lies. Ignore it. Pain is a debt paid off with time”. I had numerous people close to me reach out who had similar experiences and I read a lot of articles and blogs. These were a double edged sword, I felt anger that other people have experienced what I had but also comfort that there were others who knew what I was going through. There is such amazing camaraderie and compassion out there and I can’t convey how much this helped me. For me I also found planning ahead hard, when it first happened I went from planning a nursery and holidays the following year to having nothing to plan for.

At the end of January I found out I was pregnant and have had constant care from my midwife and consultants at Brighton hospital. Since 14 weeks I’ve had fortnightly consultant meetings, internal scans, swabs and checkups and I’ve been on daily progesterone pesseries to help firm up my cervix. I had three weeks of resting at home from weeks 21 to 24 to get me to my ‘safe zone’ and are now being left alone until scans and consultant meetings at 30 and 34 weeks. As everyone knows being pregnant is a worrying time and you receive advice from everyone but I’ve found my second pregnancy even more so and to be honest would have hidden away at home until I got to 24 weeks if I could.

Now that I have passed 24 weeks and in my ‘safe zone’ the planning and shopping has begun! I am looking to the future and feeling incredibly fortunate to be where I am. I am also honest when people ask me if this is my first pregnancy as I don’t want to hide what has happened and it truly is better to talk about everything and I will talk for hours with anyone I feel comfortable! I have also been determined to do things differently in this pregnancy and we have our baby’s gender written down by the sonographer ready to open now that I am past 24 weeks.

The level of care that I and my husband received from the NHS in both York and Brighton has been amazing, and we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who has been involved. Being consultant led this time I have felt looked after and any questions have been answered quickly and without making me feel like I am over reacting. I also regularly visited the Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) website to look at articles and message boards. Reading other women’s experiences made me feel like I wasn’t alone and the charity does so much. Throughout June they are running a campaign Sands Awareness Month and you can find out more details here.