#stillborn campaign - Aneurin's story of unconditional love
Published on: 22/01/2016
When I fell pregnant in December 2014 my husband and I were shocked but overjoyed. I was told in my early twenties I probably wouldn’t have children naturally so from day one Aneurin felt like an incredibly precious gift.
My pregnancy was a rollercoaster but one I would happily have ridden for the rest of my life. It began with a substantial amount of unexplained bleeding early on, so much we were sure we had lost our baby. Seeing that little flicker and hearing the thump-thump of his heart at 8 weeks left us both in tears; it was pure magic. Aside from pretty intense sickness and pelvic girdle pain that left me on crutches, I loved being pregnant and feeling the gentle flutters turn into vigorous kicks.
Due to my high BMI I was scanned at 24 weeks to assess my risk of pre-eclampsia. Fortunately it was low but a few things were picked up that were a cause for concern. I had double the amount of fluid I should and our baby’s stomach wasn’t visible which led the consultant to believe he wasn’t swallowing the amniotic fluid as he should be. He also had a strawberry shaped head and a ‘rocker bottom’ foot. These indicated a chromosomal condition called Edward’s syndrome. We were completely floored when she told us the condition was not compatible with life. The next three days waiting for the results of the amniocentesis were the longest of my life. When the phone finally rang we could never have imagined what news was on the other end. It wasn’t Edward’s syndrome, it was Down’s syndrome.
We were relieved. Our baby was going to live. It wouldn’t be the life we had expected but it would still be wonderful and so full of love. Our biggest concern was his physical health. We soon learnt our baby had a gap in his oesophagus requiring an operation on the day he was born and a small hole in his heart that would only need surgery around six months old if it didn’t close on its own. These were fixable early on and we felt far more confident about his future knowing that.
Although we were relieved it wasn’t Edward’s Syndrome it was still a very challenging time and for a while our son just felt like a series of medical conditions. Soon though we were back to laughing at his knack of kicking my husband whenever he cuddled me at night and he felt like our baby again.
A few weeks after the diagnosis we found out that his oesophagus issue was more complicated than initially thought and he would spent the first three months of his life in hospital, 50 miles away from our home. It was another unexpected blow but as with everything else, it just took a little time to get our heads round it. Leicester Royal NICU were incredible in helping us feel positive. They encouraged us to visit the NICU to know what expect and talked me through how to express my milk so we could feed him via his tube. We were just coming to terms with everything and feeling so excited for his arrival when he unexpectedly passed away.
The last Monday morning in July my husband and I were painting furniture for the nursery when I suddenly felt very strange. I went for lay down on the bed and with my hand on my bump, I felt our son move for the last time. It was a strange movement, not his usual kick but a gentle flutter which we now know was his little body relaxing.
I had a routine midwife appointment later that morning so I went to that as usual. When my midwife went to listen to his heartbeat with the doppler there was silence. I rolled my eyes and said ‘he’s such a naughty baby’. I never imagined it was something serious. Not when she sent us straight to the hospital without picking my husband up, not when we arrived and we were taken into a side room instead of the usual ward. I was completely in denial. All I could think was ‘we’ve been through so much, he can’t not make it now’. Eventually the midwife stopped scanning with the CTG, put her hand on my shoulder and said ‘I’m sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat’. My mum was silently weeping next to me but still I refused to believe it. It took seeing my husband’s terrified, broken face coming through the door for me to realise what was happening. A scan confirmed our biggest fear. Within seconds of placing the cold jelly on my 34 week bump my consultant said the words no parent ever wants to hear; ‘I’m sorry but your baby has died’.
I was given some medication to begin the labour process and told to come back on Wednesday morning to be induced. The day and a half we spent at home is mostly a big blank. We wanted to do our two favourite things with our son one last time; have a bath and read him a book. I spent three hours in the bath with my husband sat next to me on the floor. He kissed my bump and we swished water over it willing him to wriggle back as he had done so many times before. Watching my husband read the story he’d read him every night for the previous 6 months for the last time was heartbreaking but beautiful.
Aneurin was born on 31st July with his little hand tucked under his chin, a head of dark fluffy hair and the softest skin I’ve ever touched. I was in labour for two and a half days which sounds traumatic but it was wonderful. Every contraction was one step closer to meeting him and I would live those days and the time we spent with him a thousand times over. The room was filled with such love and serenity. We spent 8 blissful hours cuddling our son and pouring as much love as we possibly could into him. The traumatic part came when we had to leave the hospital with a Sands memory box instead of our perfect boy. The walk out of the labour ward into a world where our baby had died will stay with me forever.
It’s been nearly 6 months since Aneurin was born and despite the incredible heartbreak and grief, I wouldn’t change our time with him for the world. He taught us what unconditional love meant and to always expect the unexpected. Aneurin changed our lives and we could not be prouder.