Where do I begin?! Well, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Phil, Hannah’s husband, I have been a part of my wife’s blog (viewing from the sidelines) for some time now and think this is a perfect opportunity for all the dads out there who don’t normally have their voice or their story heard. I’m so proud of her for setting this up and giving me a voice, thank you.
The beginning of the end
It was the 1st of January 2018, the start of what should have been the best year of our lives with less than 4 weeks to go until Dexy was with us. I woke up at about 4am with him kicking me in the back as he did every morning with Hannah sound asleep. Peaceful with the normality of what was happening I fell back asleep, enjoying my very rare sleep in on a New Years day. We woke around 9/10am and Hannah was worried, I could tell that he wasn’t now moving at his normal rate, as not to worry her I reassured her that everything was fine and that he was probably just having a rest, we tried everything we could, that we had read about and usually worked to get him moving around, fizzy drinks, poking him, having a shower, as he loved that ( he defiantly got that from his mum! ) but nothing worked. Both very worried at this point, we got our hospital bag ready, called the hospital and were told to come straight in. This was nothing new to us, as we regularly went to the hospital to check if everything was OK just for our own peace of mind. We quickly got dressed, jumped in the car and were on our way. Hannah was trying to stay positive wondering if she would be induced early and we might have him here a little earlier than planned, but in the back seat of the car all I could do was worry and think the worst, something just didn’t feel right.
Hearing the news no parent wants to hear
We arrived at the hospital, left the bag in the car with Hannah’s mum as we were sure we wouldn’t be needing it if we were sent home again, and got settled in the room where we had been a few times before. At first we were reassured by a midwife who we had seen before, and had conversations about her Frida Khalo skirt ( someone we both admire ) and Hannah lay down to check Dexy’s heart rate. At first it was hard to pick up, unusual for him as he never stops moving and was the absolute worst in any appointment we went to, he was like a big wriggly worm, always on the go! But the midwife couldn’t distinguish his heartbeat from Hannah’s as she was obviously anxious as well. When they couldn’t find his heart beat and told us they were going to get the monitor, I knew something wasn’t right, they bought it in, hooked her up and he was there, but not moving, just still, and grey, and I knew the shape of his heart and I couldn’t see anything, not one beat. I didn’t want to change my face to worry Hannah as yeah I’m not a doctor and what the hell do I know? But when we were told that the consultant on call was going to be called, our worst fears set in. She entered the room with two student doctors, checked over the monitor and broke the news to us. “I’m sorry but we can’t find baby’s heartbeat”.
The gut wrenching, heartbreaking pain
At that moment we both broke down, when I’m alone walking home or just on my own all I can hear is the sound of Hannah’s pained screams for our baby. It is the singular most painful sound I have ever heard in my life and wouldn’t wish this moment on my worst enemy. I broke down immediately, I held her to my chest and let her punch the shit out of me as nothing was ever going to hurt as much as this. Why? Why us? What had we done wrong? What happened? Why did his heart stop? Why has this happened? 23 fucking days and he would be with us. I felt like I had let them both down, its my job to keep them both safe and I had failed. Three days ago we saw him moving around on a screen, happy as anything. Twelve hours ago he was his usual self and now, he was gone.
What happened next and what’s the process?
We were given two options ( well one really, Hannah wasn’t really given a choice ), a c-section or induce her and Hannah give birth to out dead son. It was literally the worst choice in the world as we didn’t want to have to leave the hospital with our child dead before he was born, but then Hannah’s health now had to come first. I had to leave the room, I hadn’t smoked in 7 months and this broke me. I went for a cigarette, trying to process everything going on and then made the long walk back feeling ever so more sick. Sick with guilt and fear that our son was gone and we had to tell people. I pretty much passed out after throwing up in the toilet and had to pull myself together for my wife.
Telling the family
This was something that neither of us wanted to do, ask yourself this question, how easy it is to say ‘look at this, this is our child, we made him, come and look at him!!’ as opposed to ‘Mum, Dad… our baby has died…’, NO ONE wants to say that. Hannah’s family came to the hospital and my family travelled down from Birmingham. Everyone was around and supportive throughout the whole process of Hannah being induced, to the moment he was born. It was a long tiring process, no sleep for anyone, worrying and waiting with a stupid comment of ‘is your baby kicking OK?’ thrown in for good measure by an incompetent doctor that caused so much stress it actually bought on her labour. 20 minuets later there he was, the most beautiful little thing I had ever seen in my life, Dexy Jude. It was after this that it went even more downhill, with Dexy in his Cold Cot, Hannah began to bleed heavily, the doctors and midwives were called and my wife lost a total of 2 litres of blood and I was praying that I wouldn’t lose my wife as well as my son. I can’t thank the midwife team at RSCH enough for what they did and are still doing for my wife. They treated us and Dexy with dignity and respect as if we were any other birth. We got to spend the next 3 days with him creating our memories, taking photos, holding him and kissing his little nose, his smell was something I’ll remember forever, its moments like that you never forget and will never forget, its hard to think that he should be here now, but the memories we made in that short space of time will last till the day I die.
After we left the hospital and said our goodbyes, packed him things to take with us and left him with little mementos that he could keep with him, Hannah’s childhood blanket and bunny, my necklace that I’d had from when we found out we were having him and a Frida Kahlo badge ( so he was part of our little strange crew ), we left for home. Not our home as we couldn’t bear to be around his stuff that we now knew he would never get to use, already set out to have him home, but Hannah’s parents where we could shut ourselves away from the world, not moving very far from everything we bought back of hospital, only returning home for random items that we may need, but we were also confronted by numerous bouquets from people who cared about us ( not ashamed to say I was very grateful and also not expecting any of them ). We had to go about planning the next step, registering his death, organising his funeral, picking flowers, songs to be played and creating an order of service, sitting down with a vicar to plan a funeral is something I never thought I’d have to do until I was really old!! But, we managed it, for him. The day of the funeral I’d never felt so sick, anxious to have to walk past everyone, everyone knowing that our son had died, but in reality I was so grateful of the turnout, it was everyone who couldn’t wait to meet him and they were there to say goodbye. He never knew how special he was and that hurts.
Back to normality?
Now, I’m not saying that I was ready to go back to work but I had to. My work was fantastic and supported me the whole way 110%, and if I’m being honest, I shouldn’t have gone back when I did, but I needed to keep myself busy. I never sit still so I had to go back to stay sane. It was the hardest thing in the world leaving Hannah alone so soon, but I had to do it otherwise I would have driven her mad. People either asked me if I was OK? Which anyone who has been through the same will know is the most stupid but obvious question to ask or just didn’t ask at all. Like Chris said, ‘Stiff upper lip and all’ and ‘were conditioned as men not to talk about our feelings’ I haven’t really opened up to anyone about it at all. Its hard enough to talk to my wife about let alone anyone else so this post gives me that voice to speak from the heart, something that I’m too scared to let people see, so if you don’t read this you will never know how I feel. At times I feel physically and mentally drained and exhausted but keep it to myself as the focus shouldn’t be on me and I’m sure that’s how most dad’s in our position feel. I didn’t have that close bond that all mothers have with their children as I wasn’t the one who carried him for 8 months, but I was there for every kick, every turn, every time he got excited over the running water in the shower, the smell of food that Hannah couldn’t eat or the song Despacito (you could tell he was of Mediterranean decent!), I was there every morning feeling him kicking me in the back to get up for work. I miss him every second of every day, and I can post photos or frame pictures in our flat but nothing will ever take away from the fact that our son died for no apparent reason. I know we are not alone out there, as much as we believed it at first there is an amazing support network out there just waiting to help. Nothing will ever take away from the fact that we lost our children, but we must do whatever we can to make their memory last, but what I wouldn’t do to hold those little hands again and see that face.