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Kerry

Age at interview: 47
Brief Outline: Kerry was 37 when she became pregnant for the fourth time. During a scan at 23 weeks her baby’s heartbeat could not be heard. Kerry’s labour was induced and she gave birth to her baby who showed no signs of life.
Background: Kerry is 47 with a son aged 8 years and 2 stepdaughters. She works as a legal executive assistant.

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Kerry had three early miscarriages at 11, 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. When she became pregnant for the fourth time Kerry felt everything was progressing well. However at a routine 23 week scan the sonographer could not find her baby’s heartbeat. Kerry was told that her baby had probably died two weeks earlier. Kerry had to go home for the weekend and come back two days later to have her labour induced. During that time, Kerry thought she could still feel her baby moving, so she asked for another scan. This scan confirmed her baby had died. 

Kerry’s labour was induced and her baby was born showing no signs of life. She held her baby but her partner did not want to. The baby had not grown properly and the midwife could not work out the sex. But Kerry and her partner thought he was a boy and named him Noah. They later found out from the post-mortem that their baby was actually a girl. 

Kerry became pregnant again and was very anxious about hearing her baby’s heartbeat throughout the pregnancy. At 39 weeks she was told that she had inflammation of the gall bladder. She was told this could lead to stillbirth so she had her labour induced and gave birth to her son. Following her baby’s birth she suffered from anxiety. Kerry had not looked at her baby’s memory box when she was given it, but few years later she came across it and she found it really upsetting going looking through the contents. It was this that prompted her to contact Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, which has been a great help to her.
 

Kerry was convinced that she could still feel her baby kicking.

Kerry was convinced that she could still feel her baby kicking.

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And it was about - I think we were twenty two weeks into - twenty three weeks into the pregnancy. And we were actually going to find out - we were going away that weekend with some friends, but that Friday we had a scan booked and we were going to find out the sex of the baby. We wanted to know, because our parents were going on about it. So obviously we were in that stage where everything was considered safe, you know? That you think you're past that hurdle of the twelve weeks. And the sonographer turned everything on, and within thirty seconds she switched everything off. And she just turned around and she said "I'm so sorry." And she said, "The baby's dead." And, I just lay there. I was like - She said, "Looks like the baby's been dead for about two weeks." And I was convinced that I could still feel kicking. But anyway, she called a doctor. And they took us into a room. And they were very good, at the [hospital]. And she said to me, "What we want to do is admit you, induce you." And I was like "Well no, you can't - we're going away." And she said, "Well look, have you got any pains? Have you had any pains? Any symptoms?" I said, "No, I feel absolutely fine." And she said, "Well, look - go away." She said, "This is the name of the hospital in [county]." And she gave me a name. "If there's an emergency, contact them. But we want you to come back on Sunday night." So I said "Okay." 

And anyway, we went back on that Sunday night. And I asked them to double-check. You know, could they take - just to check - I said because it was so quick, could they please just double-check? "I don't want to be induced and then find out the baby's alive, and - you know." So they called a doctor. And I've got to say, they were really, really good. They went through everything. They opened up the whole room. And got a sonographer in, that Sunday evening. And she explained everything. And she just said how you can tell when a baby's died earlier, because of the size - they start to shrink in size. And she said "There's no heartbeat, not moving." But she said "You might have just felt that, maybe with a bit of like amniotic fluid - the like rocking sensation of it."
 

Kerry had a very short labour and gave birth in the toilet. She resented the term ‘mini-birth’.

Kerry had a very short labour and gave birth in the toilet. She resented the term ‘mini-birth’.

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And I was actually - they, at the [name] hospital they've got a room that's called [home style birthing room]. And we were there. And I started contracting. They call it a mini birth, because it's these mini contractions that you have. And I landed up actually going to the toilet, and that's where - I delivered the baby in my hands on the toilet, at that stage. And I had to shout to [partner] to get the sister in. And she got someone in. And the cord was attached. And she was just curled up. So tiny. You know? She just fitted in my hand.

And how different did losing Noah at 23 weeks feel to the other miscarriages that you had had before?

Oh, it was - For me, a major thing compared to - I think the closest to that was probably when I was eleven weeks, and I miscarried. Because there was quite a bit of afterbirth, and the - when your miscarriage is the clots. Yeah. You don't realise how much you actually lose. But I suppose there's [sigh] - a teaspoon of blood looks like a hell of a lot. I think it's harder when you're actually delivering a baby, when it's in a foetal position. And the umbilical cord is attached. So it was so thin, and - you know - I just remember just sitting there, when I caught her. I was like - she just slid out. I was like on the toilet. And I caught her in my hands. And, yeah. To me - Having a miscarriage is a lot different to having to deliver a stillborn baby. 

How long did the labour last, do you remember?

It was quite - I think within two hours? Yeah, I delivered quite quickly. And what they did say was, you know - everyone says - they call it a mini birth, but there's nothing mini about it. And she's right. You're in just as much pain as what you are when you're delivering - you know - a full term baby.
 

Kerry went back to work after three days. Working long nights was her way of coping.

Kerry went back to work after three days. Working long nights was her way of coping.

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So I was booked off three weeks. I went back after three days. And I was working long nights, because I was working for a partner who was really busy. That stage. So I was working until eleven at night because I had no other commitments. And with [partner]'s work, he would work overtime. I actually landed up bleeding, from all of the extra stress of it. But that was - For me, that was just my way of getting through, and coping. I wasn't having to think about what happened. And I just - that's why I think that I blocked so much out.
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