#stillBORN campaign - Eric’s story of Inter Uterine Growth Restriction
Published on: 22/01/2016
We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility almost 5 years ago after 2 years of trying for a baby. After 3 rounds of IUI and one miscarriage at 11+3, we were delighted when our first round of IVF worked. We only get one free round of IVF on the NHS so we felt incredibly lucky.
We knew not to get excited yet, we waited anxiously for our 7 week scan at the fertility clinic and were relieved when we saw the flashing jelly bean on the screen. We were offered another scan at 9 weeks as I had an existing fibroid as well as a couple of cysts from the IVF treatment.
Our NHS 12 week scan was scheduled for New Years Eve, so we decided to have a private scan just before xmas just incase it was bad news.
We couldn’t believe the change in just over 2 weeks, our little jelly bean now had arms and legs and a nose and seemed to be waving at us. We both cried and finally we allowed ourselves to believe it was real and discuss names. We chose Eric after my lovely grandad for a boy, I knew in my heart it was a boy, and we excitedly broke the news to our close friends and family a couple of days before Christmas 2013.
We had got engaged the year before, but had never set a date for our wedding as we didn’t know whether we would have to pay for a round of IVF. Paying for that would always be a priority over a wedding. I tentatively started finding out which venues were free to hold a small wedding subject to our 20 week scan showing that all was ok with baby.
Our 20 week scan showed that everything was fine, and we were having a boy due on the 10th July, we couldn’t believe our luck! We finally booked our wedding, for March 29th 2014 when I would be 26 weeks.
We could only afford to have 14 people to our wedding but it was the most emotional, happy ceremony. I walked down the aisle to ‘At Last’ by Etta James, a song I have always loved, but also very apt, at 37 and 45 we had finally found our soul mates and after 4 years of trying we were finally going to start our family.
We went on honeymoon to Devon, there was no way I was going to risk getting on a plane and we didn’t want to be too far from home, just incase.
We had another private scan at 31+2. I couldn’t bear the thought of going 20 weeks without seeing him again, it seemed such a long time given that in the first 20 weeks we had six scans, two privately and four at our hospital. We recorded the scan on our video camera, Eric was sucking his thumb, and throwing his legs in the air and covering his face, we got some lovely pictures of his little face up close and I decided he looked like his Daddy. The sonographer assured us that all was well with our baby boy and said she would look forward to meeting him in the flesh.
I was booked in for a sweep with my usual midwife at 40 weeks +6. The previous day I had my first contraction whilst walking home from a friends house at about 4pm. I told Ben when I got home and we got a pad out and started writing down the times of each contraction. We couldn’t believe Eric was finally coming, we were so so excited. They were coming at about every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the night and I didn’t sleep, I was too excited, Ben stayed awake as long as he could to write down the times. He finally, reluctantly went to sleep, I told him I’d be able to relax after the birth but he would have to drive us to hospital and back and he needed to be alert for that.
The next morning we got up and had some breakfast, I felt Eric move that morning and we were seeing our midwife that afternoon. I called the doctors surgery and asked if the midwife could come to me rather than me going to the surgery as by late morning the contractions were quite strong. The midwife called back at about 2:30pm and said I could go to another surgery in our town where there was a midwife who was free, she would have a look at me and let me know if I was ready to go to hospital. Ben was rushing around with his list, he loves lists, putting the car seat in the car and bringing the bags down from the nursery. The other midwife then called and listened as I breathed through a contraction whilst on the phone, she said I was doing really well, and to pop up to the surgery as I would probably need to go to hospital a bit later on. We picked up my pregnancy notes, the pad with the times of my contractions in and the car keys and excitedly headed to the surgery.
At the surgery we saw a student midwife, who checked my urine, asked me about my contractions then got me to lie down so she could listen to baby’s heartbeat. She moved the doppler round and said she was having trouble finding it, she looked a bit embarrassed and I did my best to reassure her, I thought she was just nervous. She then said she was going to go and get another midwife as she couldn’t find it, and thought that Eric might have moved into a different position. The other midwife came and told me not to worry and she tried to find it, she couldn’t. Again she reassured us and said that he had probably just moved but she would call an ambulance so we could get a scan at the hospital as quickly as possible.
We got to the hospital and went to the scan room and I remember seeing them measuring something, I think it was a head measurement, I turned my head to look at Ben thinking that everything must be ok if they are measuring his head. Ben’s face suddenly crumbled, I said ‘honey what is it’ and he sobbed ‘ his hearts not beating, oh God he’s gone’, then I heard another voice, the sonographer; ‘I’m so sorry’. I just screamed, and screamed and screamed, how could this be happening? He was coming, I was in labour, I had been breathing through my contractions all night.
Then I remember Ben telling me I’d probably have to have a c-section, I was horrified and I said to him, ‘ no honey they’ll knock me out and just take him out, I can’t have a scar, I can’t look at that every day’, he said ‘ they can’t just take him out, and you can’t give birth honey you’ll have to have a c section’.
Then the midwife said ‘ its best for your body to give birth’. I couldn’t believe it, I felt sick, how could I give birth, I didn’t mind the excruciating pain of the contractions knowing that I was going to meet my much longed for boy, I didn’t mind what I had to go through to meet him and see Ben hold him in his arms. But to go through all that agony whilst my world was crashing down around my ears, to have nothing at the end of it, I felt like a sick joke. I actually thought they would come up with a plan, surely they would understand that I couldn’t do it and they would knock me out and somehow I could deliver my baby whilst I was asleep?
I was 3 cm dilated by this point and was on gas and air, every contraction was agony and I couldn’t muster the strength to breath through it and use all the techniques I’d learnt about. I just sobbed through every one, I couldn’t believe he was coming but he wasn’t alive. Our phones were beeping constantly with texts from friends and family asking if he was here yet, could we send a photo when he was. I phoned my best friend and asked her to tell everyone that he had gone and Ben phoned his brothers and asked them to tell the rest of the family, he also asked one of his brothers to collect our bag and bring our car over to the hospital.
At 0245 the following morning Eric was born. During my labour we had to decide whether we wanted to see him, the amazing midwife told us that she would take pictures of Eric that we could take with us or we could collect them at a later date if we changed our minds. She said we could dress him, or she could, she said we could go back to our room and get some rest then see him later if we changed our minds. It was all too much to take in, in between contractions we were trying to decide if we wanted to see our dead son.
I am eternally grateful that she told us that his appearance would deteriorate as time went on, so it might be better to see him earlier rather than later. We were still undecided, I didn’t know if I could handle it, I didn’t know if he would look normal. I was trying to concentrate on giving birth I couldn’t think about afterwards. Then after a while of pushing he arrived. I remember looking down and seeing the midwifes face side on as she bent over our son, she had tears streaming down her face and she said ‘ he’s perfect, he’s beautiful’. That instantly made up our minds, we wanted to see him.
Ben had the first cuddle, I’d had the privilege of carrying him for 41 weeks, Ben should get the first cuddle. As soon as I saw his face, my world changed forever, and when Ben put him in my arms I felt complete, we was so beautiful and perfect, just like the midwife said. We were with him for about an hour and we dressed him together, we whispered the whole time as he just looked like he was sleeping.
We never thought we would be leaving that hospital out the back door with a white memory box. We got in our car which we had bought a few weeks earlier, which would fit us and Eric and our dog in, with the baby seat still in the back, and went home to our quiet house with its fully furnished nursery, Eric’s stripy beach shorts hanging on the back of the door, and his pushchair in the dining room.
My 38th birthday was 5 days later, I couldn’t believe I only had a video of my son from our 31 week scan. We planted an apple tree that day in our garden under Eric’s bedroom window.
The next few weeks were a blur, it was so surreal, what are the chances of IVF working on your first try and then your son dying the day you go into labour. It felt like a very far fetched, cruel TV soap plot.
We re-mortgaged our house when I was 3 months pregnant, so we could afford to buy a family car, have a couple of extra private scans, we bought Eric’s nursery furniture and all the equipment we would need for our little man. Ben worked every evening and every weekend for months to finish the house we have been renovating for the last 4 years get everything safe and baby ready.
The post mortem showed that Eric probably died of Inter uterine growth restriction. As we had paid for a private scan at 31 weeks we knew that he weighed 3lb 11oz then, when he was born he was only 5lb 15 oz. We were relieved to know that there was nothing genetically wrong with him or us and that I was completely healthy, at the same time it was hard to hear that he was perfect and this was just a cruel twist of fate after we had been through so much to get pregnant.
Our NHS trust were not using GAP charts at the time. I was admitted to the Day assessment unit at 34 weeks (my blood pressure was high at my midwife appointment at 33+6), with mild hypertension and was monitored on a CTG for a few hours but was not offered a Doppler scan to monitor the blood flow to the placenta despite NICE guidelines recommending that women presenting with mild hypertension before 34 weeks should be given a scan.
The GAP chart from the Perinatal Institute showed that Eric’s growth problems started at about 33 weeks.
We decided that the only thing which could possibly ease the pain of this tragedy would be to continue to try for a baby. Our lives are just so empty without our much longed for baby and the house just feels deafeningly silent, our hearts are bursting with love for our baby but Eric isn’t here for us to shower with cuddles and affection.
We had frozen egg transfer (FET) 6 months after we lost Eric. I focused on loosing my baby weight and getting my body ready for January. We didn’t celebrate Christmas, we had nothing to celebrate, Christmas should have been so much different, we just focused on our FET, if it worked we would be having Eric’s twin brother or sister.
Unfortunately the FET didn’t work, and our worlds crumbled again, we had to be so positive to give it a chance of working, but luck wasn’t on our side. Our consultant then wrote to the funding commission to see if there was a chance that we could get funding for another round of IVF.
We finally have some hope again as I am now pregnant with twins.
During my maternity leave I have been volunteering in a local primary school with the year one pupils. I am also doing an NVQ in the hope of getting a job as a teaching assistant, a perfect job for when we hopefully have a family.