Thursday, 20 August 2015

The termination of a WANTED pregnancy - an honest account

I don't think I've been this honest since all this began. I havn't even said it all out loud. I havn't even written it down. 

It all started back in February 2014. I was rushed to hospital with servere stomach pains in the middle of the night. I had an ectopic pregnancy which had caused internal bleeding and resulted in emergency surgery and removal of my right Fallopian tube. I was told the chances of me falling with a viable pregnancy naturally again were slim due to the partial blockage of my left tube. I was only 21 and hadn't even known I was pregnant. 
The news was deverstating. Not only had I lost a baby I hadn't even known was there, I had also nearly lost my life and left my then 2 year old daughter without a mum. But the worst part was I thought I'd never have another child. All I've ever wanted is to have children. I've never been career minded and I'm very family orientated. My daughter is my world but I desperately wanted to give her a brother or sister and I desperately wanted to give my partner, Brent, a child. 
No help was really given for the loss we had just experienced, a couple of leaflets were given to us but as soon as we stepped out the hospital we weren't their problem anymore, we were forgotten. 

It was hard to get back to a normal routine. But a short getaway to Amsterdam helped Brent and I to realise that we could still be happy and that whatever was thrown at us we could stick together. 

Fast forward a few months to October 2014, I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant. After believing it would never happen again I was secretly thrilled but it was tainted at the thought it could easily be another ectopic. I was sent to the early pregnancy clinic who confirmed the pregnancy was in the right place and everything was fine. It was the best news but somehow I couldn't shake this feeling that there was something wrong. I put it to the back of my mind and tried to be as  excited as Brent was. 
The uneasy feeling had grown into genuine worry by the time our 12 week scan came along. I had every right to worry. Medical professionals have this way of letting you know it's not right before even saying anything. It's the silence. 
Sure enough our baby had an increased nuctual translucency (NT level). This meant a risk of Down's syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities as well as heart conditions. 

2 days later we were sent up to Kings College Hospital in London for a repeat scan which showed the NT level had increased further and a CVS test (where a very large needle is incerted through the abdomen into the uterus to collect a sample of placenta for DNA testing). It was heartbreaking, scary and painful. 
We waited weeks and weeks for the results but finally they came. Negative. Down's, negative. Turners, negative. All the other 90+ conditions they tested for, negative! 
We also had a fetal cardiac scan to check for any heart conditions but that was all clear. 
I didn't know what to do. On one hand the tests were all negative which was a good outcome but on the other hand my heart was still telling me there was something really wrong. 

I reluctantly let myself get excited. I started buying a few clothes. Looking for new gagets that weren't around when my daughter was a baby. We bought a new crib and bedding. We had a private scan in 4D and saw our beautiful baby. And I finally started telling people I was pregnant after 18 weeks of trying to hide it, and not really succeeding. Maybe the increased NT level was just one of those things? Maybe they got it wrong?

We had our 20 week anomaly scan booked at Kings on the same day as another cardiac scan. The cardiac scan was first thing in the morning. All was fine. The 20 week scan was last thing. We waited hours, long, anxious hours! 

Finally I layed on the couch as soon as that scanner hit my belly the consultant did that thing they do....silence. And that was it. I knew it was over. I knew that this baby I'd bonded with, that I loved with all my heart, wasn't going to be able to come home. My daughter would never meet her brother or sister. 

After telling us the problems our baby had the consultants said that there was an incompatibility with life. We had 2 choices. Carry on with the pregnancy which would result in late misscarrige or stillbirth or worse, our baby could live a few painful, heartbreaking days. Or terminate the pregnancy. 
Unless you've had to make that decision you wouldn't understand what its like.  The guilt you feel. The pain in your chest at the cracks forming through your already crushed heart. 

We had talked and talked about this outcome since the day we had our 12 week scan and every time we'd come to the same conclusion. We knew we couldn't be selfish and spend those precious few days with our baby whilst they were in pain. If there was, by some sort of miracle, a chance of survival, what sort of life would they have? And where would that leave Lily? If this baby needed 24/7 care for the rest of their life, her life would change forever. She deserved as much care but she would be pushed to the back. 

We made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. It wasn't something we took lightly, it wasn't because we didn't want or love our baby. We did it because it was the least selfish thing to do for everyone. And I don't care what anyone says it wasn't the easy way out! 

I was sent for more tests including an amnio (more massive needles but to collect amniotic fluid this time) and given a tablet to loosen my cervix. 
I went back two days later and was induced. I went through hours of labour which was somehow a million times worse than labour with Lily, like my body didn't want to let go. Like I was fighting it. At 18.22 on 30th January 2015 our beautiful, amazing, tiny little baby boy Albie George Kevin Hitchen was born weighing 310g. I savoured every moment knowing this was the only time I would ever cuddle my baby the only time I'd ever get to hold his hand, the only time I'd ever get to say to him I loved him. 

He was smaller than he should have been, his brain hadn't developed, and his genitals had not developed how they should, he had club foot and other frozen limbs. Which made sense as he never moved when we had any scans, he couldn't move. He also had abnormal facial features and an underdeveloped bowel. A postmortem confirmed all this.

From then on my life changed again. I, as a person, had changed again. People think of me differently now some people disagree with our decision but the majority of those people will have never been in this situation. This is why I'm writing this. This is why I'm telling my story. The help and support I got after the loss of my son was nil! I was given a number for counselling which I had to sort myself and still 7 months on that hasn't started yet. I've finally got a date for my 1st appointment but that whole time I've been on a waiting list. You won't find many, if any support websites on the Internet. No one wants to tell their story because it's painful and the thought of someone judging you is too much to bare. But I'm breaking the silence! Judge me if you've been in that situation, if not you don't have a right. 

I think about my gorgeous angel Albie every day but we're trying to get on with our lives to make him proud of his mummy, daddy and his amazing big sister. 

After all, life goes on