Breaking the silence I think is a pretty accurate title for what you’re about to read.
I should probably start by apologising how depressing this is going to be and if the topic of stillbirth, child loss or anything of that nature upsets you then I should recommend you close your device down and hide in a hole until you discover that this is a real life thing and it happens more than you know. 1 in 200 births result in stillbirths in the UK, so that’s around 15 families lives affected every single day, something i never knew;or ever wanted to know. I’m just hoping that if one person reads this and can relate to it then I guess my job is done. There is nothing worse than losing a child and feeling isolated and alone.
Right, on we go.
My name is Hannah Pontillo. I’m from Brighton, UK. I’m 21, Married, and I had a son.
That sentence kills me every time I say it, or write it or even think it. on January 1st I was 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I woke up at 4am to have a wee and when I got back to bed my son was kicking me like crazy and for some reason I just laid there with my hand on my stomach feeling each and every one of his movements and thinking by the end of this month my little family will be complete and I have no idea what I am in for and I was scared. when I woke up at 10am I felt no movements. I tried drinking lemonade, laying on my left side, doing star jumps, having a shower, and yet nothing made my baby move. Me and Phil decided then it was time to call the hospital. We both knew something wasn’t right. Then when we arrived they couldn’t find his heartbeat so they called a senior Dr down to do an ultrasound to see if they could. When she arrived she had 3 student Drs with her. She set everything up and there it was. My beautiful little boy on the screen with no heart beat.”I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat” I can’t ever forget her voice when she told us, she had tears rolling down her face and I just looked at Phil and I knew that our family wasn’t going to be how I imagined a few hours earlier. There is not a way I can describe how I felt about my son dying. I felt guilty for every time I moaned about being pregnant, how much I just wanted him to be here as soon as possible and I didn’t mind if he was a little early. I felt guilty for not being able to keep my son safe.
The whole process from this moment on felt like forever. You then have to have another Dr come in and scan you to confirm your baby’s death and they then have to do the whole I’m sorry but there is no heartbeat speech again.
How do I get him out?
well, you have two choices. Either give birth naturally or have a C-section, right? wrong. These Drs are DEAD AGAINST C-sections and I wanted one. well, I say I wanted one. I later discovered it’s a very natural reaction to want to have one because you just can’t imagine having to give birth to a dead baby. I literally was screaming at this Dr about how crazy she was wanting me to give birth naturally to him. Why the fuck would I? Why would i want to go through hours of labour and pain to get nothing in return?
What happens now?
You go home, you cry uncontrollably, you contemplate suicide and then you lay in bed completely numb. You have around 12-24 hours until you go back to the hospital, it ISN’T long enough to try to process everything. You know what makes it worse? You have to come to terms with the fact that the baby inside you is dead. How do you do that? I don’t fucking know! You just have to.
When you arrive the next day they tell you about what to expect and time frames. That’s the plan anyway… You get given a folder of leaflets and booklets of different charities, funeral directors, grandparents grieving, post-mortems, trying for another baby, you name it they’ve got a booklet for it.
There is a tablet for you to take which is the size of about 50p and they watch you swallow it like you are an animal in a zoo.
Then they send you on your way.
When do I give birth?
How long is a piece of string? They start you on internal tablets that the midwife (mine was amazing- Tash) puts on you cervix. Then after that you take oral tablets every few hours. Trust me to not progress with just that, so I then had to be put on a hormone drip which goes into you through IV and that really gets it going! This leads me on to my next sub-cat..
Will it hurt?
Hmmm let me think… YES!!!! It bloody hurts!!! I was pretty “lucky” if you want to call it that. Because there was no baby to monitor or worry about in a sense I was allowed ANY pain killers I wanted… I used this to my full advantage and thought well my life’s shit so why not try everything out and have a fab time getting off my face on painkillers. I started off with the standard paracetamol and ibuprofen, then codeine, a morphine drip (which did not agree with me and it was the worst experience, EVER) and when that stopped working I had the most debated about painkiller in childbirth which is the epidural. Boy am I glad this was invented! It let me sleep, have a laugh, but most importantly cope.
I farted and where I was so numb I pissed myself and didn’t have the feeling to be able to stop it… Which when your sisters and a midwife is in the room tends to become a laughing point and you constantly bring it up, laugh and piss yourself some more. I’m just glad Phil wasn’t in the room because I know I would never live it down. (babe i swear if you bring this up now… I will slap you!)
When the time came for me to give birth I had no idea. I was so out of it on painkillers I just didn’t know what was happening. I mentioned to the midwife I had a stomach ache and pressure, so she done a check and I was ready to push. 20 minutes later My heart broke again. I know it’s stupid but you hope deep fucking down that your baby will cry and they will be wrong and everything will go back to how it was meant to be… There was no cry.
At 20:08 on January 5th my son Dexy Jude Pontillo was born.
No cry, no Response, just a sleeping baby in my arms.
Phil, Myself and Dexy. Our complete little family at last.