Ironically but somewhat serendipitously our babes decided to make an appearance on Planet Earth in Baby Loss Awareness Week which ran from the 9th-15th October this year – Faith and Constance wanted their birthday to be on the 10th when my waters broke but they managed to hold on whilst the doctors administered the necessary steroids and drips into my arms to advance Constance’s lungs and heart rapidly in anticipation of birth which took place on the 11th October, slap bang in the middle of Baby Loss Awareness Week!
I’m ashamed to admit that Baby Loss Awareness Week was not something I had ever been aware of before but it quickly became at the forefront of our minds this year. To launch the week, an incredible documentary titled “Child of Mine”, directed by Katie Rice for Channel 4, had its premier screening at the Curzon Soho Cinema in London. I was desperate to go and at the last minute asked poor Fred whose birthday it was that very day if he wouldn’t mind spending it at the cinema potentially in floods of tears with me rather than at the surprise dinner party I had organised for him (sorry to our dear friends who we cancelled on at the last minute – I made some pathetic excuse that I realised a Monday night was a terrible idea to get pals over and that we were overtired from the weekend, please forgive me!)
“Child of Mine” touched us to the core and provided some brilliant insight into what, unknowingly, we were about to embark on – far sooner than we’d hoped for in 2 days post the screening. It is a beautiful, heart wrenchingly honest and raw depiction of 3 INCREDIBLE super human couples going through varying kinds of still birth. It highlighted a terrifying statistic to me – 1 in 200 births in the UK are stillborn. I am sure everybody already knows this so apologies if I am stating the obvious but I actually didn’t know what classified a stillborn until we went through it so I write here a definition only on the basis that either I am quite ignorant or we need to start talking far more openly about such a traumatic event in expectant new parents’ lives:
Stillbirth is typically defined as foetal death at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It results in a baby born without signs of life. The term is in contrast to miscarriage which is an early pregnancy loss and live birth where the baby is born alive, even if it dies shortly after. Often the cause is unknown.
Please watch this inspiring, brave, and hugely informative documentary if you feel you are able to. Yes, its terribly sad and we seem as humans to want to shy away from pain. But through pain and suffering comes enormous strength, love and beauty. The overriding emotion I walked out of the cinema with that night was LOVE, not sadness. LOVE, deep in my heart for how incredible human beings truly are – for the couples going through the immense suffering, the consultants, the councillors, the bereavement midwives, the newborns who made it and stillborns who will forever live on in their parents hearts, LOVE conquers all.
Here is the link to “Child of Mine” which aired on TV on Thursday 18th October at 10pm but is currently on Channel 4 Catch up:
I hope you take as much from it as I did. Get the tissues ready!
And finally, an update on our darling Constance.
She is currently stable in Low Dependency in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She is making light of the uncomfortable wires and tubes strapped up to her and incessant loud beeping from her own and all her other baby dorm mates’ monitors and machines (and which Fred and I now have like a tinnitus constantly ringing in our ears when we go home to bed at night).
She is and has from birth been fed entirely from my own hand expressed and machine pumped breast milk via a tube down her throat into her stomach – a special bond since we cannot be physically side by side for much of the time. This has been a painful curse that brings me huge anxiety and makes it impossible for me to sleep – hence I am writing this post at 3.00am after a successful pumping session! I’m lucky that the milk production is one area I seem to be doing better in finally during this pregnancy! I know from talking to other dear fellow mums in NICU that it can be very tough to get the milk in manually. In my NCT classes (which as a side note, I adored – thank you to all the girls in my group for your kind support thus far – I had the latest due date of the lot and ended up being the first to deliver – good luck girls on your imminent arrivals!), it was really hammered home to us how beneficial it can be to place the baby on the breast immediately post birth and in fact also proven that full term babies will gradually nudge and root their way up to the breast directly post birth if left to their own devices.
We are getting more confident at handling our tiny baby. Post birth, babies always lose roughly 10% of their body weight due to excess fluid. This is no problem if you’re a healthy 7/8 pounder newborn but quite tough if you’re a tiny 11 weeks premature 2 pounder like Constance. She dropped from 1.019kg/2.2 pounds/a bag of sugar to 944g/2 pounds but more recently she weighed in at 974g/2.1 pounds – let’s hope by Sunday when she is next weighed she will be back up at her birth weight and that our little packet of Tate and Lyle only continues to sweeten and flourish.
Thank you for reading and for all your wonderful messages of support and LOVE – they have given us strength when we have needed it most and only highlighted the unbelievable amounts of LOVE we all share. LOVE CONQUERS ALL.