AFE Survivor Vicky

On November 15th I headed to the hospital for the 20 week ultrasound scan. So excited to share this special moment, I took the entire family including my mum. The boys huddled around the TV screen as I lay on the bed. I could hear my husband Jamie saying ‘there is his head, spine and hands.’ I was unable to see clearly but I was excited hearing them talk. But then I saw the sonographer’s face, something was wrong! My mum had decided to remain in the waiting room giving us this time together as a family. The sonographer suggested the boys sit with her; my heart sank and I started to cry. She explained that she could not find a heartbeat and that she needed a second opinion. What was minutes seemed like hours. Then we were given the devastating news that our baby, a boy, was gone. He measured correctly so had only passed away in the last day or two. After a consultation with a doctor I was given some drugs to help the placenta detach and ready for labour.

It took three days for the medication to work and on November 18th, I was admitted to the gynecological ward of the hospital,  not to the maternity ward because they were so extremely sensitive to my situation of delivering a stillborn. Jamie and my mum came and remained right by my side to offer support not only to me but one another.  We were introduced to Hannah, the ward sister, who would be my personal nurse. Her office just next door she was on hand when ever I needed her. Labour was induced, and it was a waiting game, my emotions were all over the place. I was devastated, I had lost my baby but in a slightly strange way I was looking forward to saying hello. Have a cuddle and saying goodbye. Labour was long and suddenly I felt the need to go to the bathroom. It also felt like I needed to push.

Jamie went to get Hannah who was there within seconds.  She had assessed me while I remained in the restroom. She agreed it was time to push and suggested I get to the bed. That was it.  It was as if someone turned off the light I was out cold. Jamie was able to get me to the bed then he and mum were escorted out of the as the crash team ran in. One of the team was Dr Seller, a very experienced obstetric consultant, he had seen one other AFE in his native South Africa, and spotted the signs. The hemorrhage protocol was used then blood/blood products were brought in thick and fast as I was in DIC. Jamie and my mum were comforted by Chris a porter who knew me and was able to feed them as much information as he could in all the panic. When the ordeal had finished and I was transferred to ICU, the room I was in looked like a horror scene. Blood everywhere, staff needed new uniforms and a massive clean up began.

The next thing I knew I was in ICU, shock pads on my chest with Jamie and Mum by my bedside. My baby! Where was my baby? Once I got over the shock of being alive, trying to get my head around what had happened to me I wanted to know what had happened to my baby. My darling little angel had been crushed and his tiny body broken by my cervix when I collapsed. The nurse had been able to taken a couple of pictures of his hands and feet plus taken a foot print but it was strongly advised not to see his body. It was wrapped up so I could have a cuddle but high on drugs I can not remember that precious moment.

Three days later I went home. They didn’t know what else to do, physically I was normal. My bloods and vitals were all ok. I was a tough cookie. The boys were told after the scan that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped and that I would have to go into hospital so the doctors could take the baby out of mummy’s tummy and send him to heaven. They were given the chance to name their brother, they choose Thomas after their favourite TV character. The weeks after coming home were a blur. I had to arrange a funeral for Thomas and keep the daily routine going for my boys. I had to face the world.

Now two and a half years later, I’m still struggling but I’m stronger for it. Jamie and I have had counseling, me more than him. I had a lot of guilt, I felt that I was the one who killed him; had damaged his body and put my family through the terrible ordeal. I was left with so many questions that I couldn’t answer. They continue to haunt me. Why did Thomas die? Why did the AFE happen? Why did I survive? I have a candle that sits with his memory box that gets lit on special days. His body is buried at our local church and I visit when I can. I just hope he is at peace.