This is probably one of the most personal and cherished blog posts I’ll ever write, and perhaps one of the hardest. I feel with sharing my stories about the aftermath I should also share what led us to this point. I want to tell you Silver Rose’s story. Not only did we deliver prematurely but this pregnancy also didn’t fall short on drama, happiness and heartbreak.
A lot of my story was documented on Instagram and I’ve been very open and honest sharing the truths of this pregnancy and exactly what we have been through so please feel free to check that out. I post regularly on there about Silver, coping with life after loss and my two rainbow babies Beau and Leilani.
I want to start by telling you how it all began. As our son Beau turned six months and we began weaning we decided to start trying to conceive again, wishing for children close together in age. It felt like a long six months but finally a few days before his first birthday, on the 24th July 2016 we got the good news we were hoping for after the familiar symptoms had already started to kick in. You can see Fabian’s reaction in this commemorative YouTube video I created when Silver had passed away.
We were overjoyed and I was feeling sick already. After suffering a miscarriage before Beau, we had both come to terms with baby loss to a certain extent and realised how much we needed support throughout. For that reason, we told family swiftly and did an early public announcement too. We wanted to know that whatever happened we would be supported and that should anything happen it would not feel isolating. We as parents should be proud of each and every life we create no matter what happens. I do however respect this is not for everyone.
We chose to have a private scan at 7 weeks for our own peace of mind and saw a beautiful little blob with a heartbeat. All seemed well. Unfortunately, I had a mental breakdown at 11 weeks and ended up with an ambulance called because I was adamant she had died and that I was going to take my life. They took me to hospital who then arranged an emergency scan for the next day in the EPAU. It’s so strange because I did the exact same thing at 11 weeks with Beau! I think it’s hard to sometimes believe you are pregnant when you have no proof except two lines on a stick and no movements or significant physiological changes.
All was well and I then went less than a week later to the 12 week scan. Everything was still perfectly normal. Beau had been with us to every scan so far and it was truly special seeing his reaction watching the screen. The 12 week scan was by far my favourite, Silver was so active and you could see her stretch fully, pushing her legs against the sides of which I could very faintly feel. She was rolling onto her side and seemed content and healthy. She was measuring a day ahead and was due on the 3rd April. We left that appointment feeling happy and looking forward to welcoming her into our life.
I wish I could say at least some of this pregnancy was enjoyable but in actual fact it was one hell of a ride. The acute prenatal depression in the first trimester and nausea on a much greater scale in comparison to Beau’s easy going pregnancy was difficult to say the least. I actually lost 3kg initially due to my nausea and had a very incompetent lacklustre midwife who didn’t take my concerns over this seriously.
This midwife also suggested that because I was struggling so much with my prenatal depression that I should have an abortion after I had had my twelve week scan a few hours earlier watching her wriggling around. Needless to say, I was not very impressed. To make matters worse my reaction to her abhorrent behaviour meant a doctor and herself threatened us with social services to protect the baby (that she had moments earlier suggested aborting). It breaks my heart every time I remember this incident because at the end of the day, even after fighting for my little girl she did in fact die, just as my midwife would have been happy to arrange.
It took a long time for the morning sickness to subside, I was at least 18 weeks before it truly improved. I honestly thought it was never going to end and it had made me feel truly miserable at the time, something I now feel guilty and unappreciative of. Things started to look up when I started to feel better. I had an inkling the nausea was a sign we were having a girl as I pretty much had no noticeable morning sickness with Beau.
Whilst Christmas shopping for Beau I bought a couple things for Silver which were pink, deciding colour didn’t matter even our baby turned out to be a little boy. I bought a little toy that squeaked and an elephant teether. At this point I was feeling excited about the upcoming scan, excited we were almost halfway to having a baby to hold and looking forward to Christmas in our new home we had just purchased. We were excitedly planning a home pool birth too after just missing out with Beau.
Our twenty-week scan was actually performed at 19 weeks. Beau had accompanied as usual and this is where our lives were forever changed. In all fairness my mum had been saying for a while she didn’t think my bump was as big this time around but I didn’t believe her. That was until this scan. I was scanned three times. I still remember when she sent me for a walk and we went to the car to get Beau some food that I said to Fabian I was worried something was wrong.
In conclusion she told us the bowels were echogenic which meant they appeared bright on the screen. She also told us Silver’s skull was dolichophallic (conical shaped) along with little amniotic fluid and small kidneys. She couldn’t answer me when I asked if Silver would live, a reaction you hope you will never receive. This was the last scan we got a clear picture of Silver.
I broke into a million pieces that day
The next week me and Fabian went to Leeds General Infirmary. I don’t want to go into too much detail with Leeds because I feel so much anger towards them. The level of care was poor and we were spoken down to. I never felt comfortable asking questions and always left feeling confused. I was told my baby would die and they offered termination within the first appointment. I broke into a million pieces that day when the consultant confirmed our worst fears. I hate the fact that we wanted to give Silver every chance and all the consultant would talk about was palliative care, including a vaginal birth which would have made her highly likely to be stillborn due to contractions compressing the cord with lack of fluid.
We saw the phrase ‘Choose Life’ … and that was exactly what we did.
Despite the sombre outlook from Leeds perspective we very quickly decided we would not be giving up. I solemnly refused to accept losing her and I became strong. We saw the phrase ‘Choose Life’ wrote on the back of a muddy van that day and that was exactly what we did. I loved her so much and was even surprised by my own tenacity in such a difficult circumstance. Being a parent is never what you expect and it brings out natural instincts you didn’t know existed. I have never been a typical maternal person but I was willing to fight to the bitter end for my little princess and to this day I am thankful for the woman she made me become.
I was a mother desperate to save her child
It was a roller coaster in the sense that every time we went to Leeds we were told something different. One week we were told her kidneys had completely disappeared and the next we were told they were abnormally large! She was measuring about 7 weeks smaller than she should and her lungs were disproportionately small even for her body. Every time I would meticulously research what was brought up only for it to be something else the next time. I drove myself crazy, I was a mother desperate to save her child and would do whatever it would take. Leeds refused to try any treatments and had given up on Silver. I had such a bad gut feeling and had been planning on asking for a second opinion when the consultant actually suggested it!
I randomly picked Newcastle and it was the best decision we made. We had an amazing consultant who had been a professor for 23 years (Professor Robson- he deserves credit for the care he provided)! We knew we were in good hands and he actually made us feel comfortable asking questions and respected we wanted to try everything to save Silver and was happy to put everything in place to give her the best, which she deserved. He explained to me why the treatment I wanted to try wasn’t a smart idea in regards to her safety and I was okay with that, whereas Leeds simply lectured me and quoted a medical journal which I think was an intentional ploy to confuse and undermine both me and Fabian in order to convince us to make a different decision.
Silver made me a stronger, braver person than I ever thought I could be
Newcastle wanted to try find the cause of the problems so they knew how to move forward. The explained everything clearly and we decided to go ahead with a CVS test. This is where a very big needle is put through your tummy and they take samples from the placenta to effectively test the genetic structure to see if there are any chromosomal abnormalities. I have a huge needle phobia so my hypnotherapist did wonders with me, plus the pure motivation of doing anything to help Silver meant I took it in my stride. Silver made me a stronger, braver person than I ever thought I could be. I’m proud of all the things I did for her and learnt more about myself than I could have ever imagined. The results however showed everything was normal which left us in the dark as we moved further on in the pregnancy.
The one positive we did gain from this however was finally after weeks of the unknown and pining to say her name, we knew that Silver was in fact a girl and could now call her by her female name we had selected. We had had so many scans but due to the lack of fluid the sex was impossible to determine. Despite the morbid reality we still cherished each moment and enjoyed our time with Silver, even doing a gender reveal video too!
We had countless scans throughout this journey but because there was so little/ no fluid you could barely tell what part of her body you were looking at. Scans are usually the highlight of a pregnancy but for us they were terrifying experiences as we learnt more and more about Silver’s hope and chances at life. We were lucky enough to get one last picture from Newcastle when one day we spotted the shape of her head, our last scan picture. It’s so murky but distinguishable enough that we got it printed and treasured it with our other more positive scan pictures.
We also had an MRI scan of my bump which was sent to an expert in Liverpool. Thankfully it confirmed Silver’s brain was normal if not a little small compared to her skull. It showed her bladder was half full which meant her kidneys were working to a certain extent although quality of the urine couldn’t be determined. Unfortunately, it confirmed her lungs were disproportionately small even to her tiny body, pulmonary hypoplasia was the term used. Because of this we were told she likely wouldn’t survive no matter how much oxygen they gave her. The specialist also said that in all her years she had never seen such an abnormal placenta. We were furious after Leeds had told us the placenta was completely normal three times.
The closer we got to Silvers birth the more we had appointments. It went from being weekly to every few days and daily monitoring at our local hospital too. At one point the professor was happy she was content and as healthy as she could be that she could make it nearly to term. She did start to struggle unfortunately and the last appointment we had was at 32 weeks and 6 days on the Monday. The blood flow from placenta was fine but I’d had lack of movement. I got admitted for day monitoring and then onto the ward to stay for the week until our Friday appointment. She didn’t improve and that’s when we were told we were going to theatre at 8.30pm.
I was already prepared for a C Section anyway. It was a terrifying prospect but we had known from early on that it was the only way to guarantee a live birth. In times like this you suddenly realise how it really doesn’t matter how your baby is born, as long as they are born alive and well. We were made well aware that we were taking a big risk for future pregnancies but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even if this risk became very apparent in my rainbow pregnancy and Silver’s scar did in fact rupture, putting mine and Leilani’s life at risk.
I want to share her birth in more detail in another blog but what I can say is the day of her birth was the best and worst day of my life. I was like a pin cushion! I kept having panic attacks every time they wanted blood or to inject me and of course I was absolutely terrified our time with Silver was coming to an end and we were going to have to say goodbye soon. I can’t say how grateful I am that we didn’t have to say hello and goodbye on the same day. Not only that but we got two whole weeks! I have spoke to so many people who’ve had stillbirths and my heart breaks for them. I find my grief incredibly diffiuclt because I got to know Silver and spent so much time with her but I am also so aware of how lucky I am. I know some parents who never got to see their baby open their eyes and my heart breaks for them.
I haven’t yet found anyone else who had a baby similar to Silver and would love to connect if anyone else has experienced the same ailments within their baby to hear what happened and if they ever got any answers.
Until next time,