Lisa and Matt

Lisa and Matt were aged 35 and 36 at the time of their second pregnancy. Lisa had bulging membranes at 19 weeks and had stitches in her cervix to try to delay their baby’s birth. But at 22 weeks her waters broke and their baby was born alive and lived for two hours.

Lisa and Matt’s first child was born at 34 weeks, so when they became pregnant for a second time they expected their baby may be born early again. The pregnancy progressed well until 19 weeks when Lisa had some bleeding and thought it was best to go to hospital to get checked over. She wasn’t overly concerned until it became obvious that she had bulging membranes and at that point was told her cervix was opening. They put in a stitch to try and delay birth and the Lisa went home for a few days and had to rest. Caring for their 14 month old son was difficult, so Lisa and Matt were helped by their family. Unfortunately, a week later Lisa discovered that she had bulging membranes again and so knew the stitch had failed. She returned to hospital and had a different type of stitch put in her cervix. Lisa stayed in hospital for a few days to rest and to be monitored for infection. She was able to go home again, but that night her waters broke so she had to return to hospital. A few days later the doctor removed the stitch as the risk of infection was too high, putting the baby and Lisa’s life at risk. Lisa waited at home to go into natural labour, which happened a few days later. At the same time she became unwell from developing an infection and arrived in hospital not long before the birth.

Lisa’s gave birth to their second son at 22 weeks. They named him Emmanuel. He lived for two hours after his birth and Lisa and Matt made the most of their short time with him, holding him and singing to him. They stayed with Emmanuel for 24 hours and close friends and family came to visit them. They really appreciated little gestures of thoughtfulness by the midwives who cared for them, such as ensuring there were no babies or other pregnant women around when they left the hospital.

As Emmanuel was born alive, Lisa and Matt were entitled to maternity and paternity leave from work which they found really helpful. Lisa returned to work after six weeks and found her employer to be very understanding. Lisa and Matt needed to register Emmanuel’s birth and death at the registry office. While this was emotional for them they appreciated the fact that his life was officially registered. They chose not to have a post-mortem carried out as they did not think it would show any health problems. The placenta was tested and the results showed that an infection was present.

At the time of the interview, 5 months after Emmanuel’s birth, Lisa and Matt were thinking about trying for another baby but were anxious about the stress they might feel during another pregnancy.

Lisa could never predict what would trigger her grief.

Matt describes feeling almost relieved after the birth because he was so worried about Lisa’s health.

Lisa and Matt felt were unsure whether to access counselling services as they weren’st sure what they would talk about.

Lisa and Matt explained how anxious Lisa was at the thought of returning to hospital to check why she was bleeding.

Lisa and Matt talked about how they found taking photographs difficult, not knowing whether to smile or not.

Lisa and Matt had just two hours with their son before he died. This time was a gift.

Matt said their midwife offered different options of stage-managing how they left their baby at the hospital, asking if they wanted to leave him in the room, or push him out in a cot.

Lisa and Matt explained how seeing their older son made coming home easier.

Matt struggled with weighing up the best for his unborn baby when Lisa’s life was at risk.