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Nesta

Age at interview: 39
Brief Outline: Nesta’s third pregnancy. During a scan at 23 weeks her baby’s heartbeat could not be heard. Nesta’s labour was induced and she gave birth to her son who showed no signs of life.
Background: Nesta is 39 and married with two children aged 3 and 5 years. She works as a medical communications consultant.

More about me...

Nesta was pregnant for the third time. Everything had been progressing normally until she went for a routine scan at 21 weeks of pregnancy. The sonographer could not take all of the measurements they needed so Nesta was asked to come back for another scan 2 weeks’ later. At this second scan they could not find her baby’s heartbeat and Nesta was told he had died. Nesta had to decide whether to take a tablet to prepare her body for the labour and birth straightaway or to come back another day. She decided to take the tablet that day and was asked to come back two days later to give birth to her baby. Nesta’s son was born at 23 weeks and 6 days showing no signs of life. They named him Daniel. Although during her labour there were no bereavement suites available, Nesta and her husband were able to spend the night in hospital with their son in a dedicated bereavement room. They went home the next morning but were able to visit him over the next two days in hospital. Nesta found the memory box they were given incredibly comforting, and she also valued the professional photographs the hospital provided. The midwife was very thoughtful in bringing the photos round to their house personally rather than them arriving unexpectedly in the post, which they really appreciated. Nesta gave birth one day too soon to be entitled to maternity leave or pay. Her husband helped her arrange sick leave from work. She took 7 weeks which she found very helpful. Nesta found those weeks very difficult, and was particularly upset by the lack of communication which meant she was called up to ask why she wasn’t attending an antenatal appointment. Nesta and her husband took advice from Sands on how to talk to their older children (aged 2 and 4 years) about Daniel’s death which they found very helpful. They decided to have Daniel buried rather than cremated and find the grave a peaceful place to remember him. Nesta and her husband decided to try for another baby but her next pregnancy ended at 10 weeks. One year on, Nesta is coming to terms with the possibility that she may not have any more children.
 

Nesta felt hysterical and couldn’t believe the news.

Nesta felt hysterical and couldn’t believe the news.

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They just said "We're sorry." And at this point I just jumped up. And I just was like "No, no. It can't be." And they said, "Yes, we're really sorry but the baby's gone. There's no heartbeat." And, and then I remember actually they said - I was sitting up at this point, a bit hysterical. And they said "Well can you just, just lie very still so we can just have a close look, try and make a judgement of, you know, when this happened and things." I couldn't really do that. I was sort of shaking and that [laughing]. 

They had another quick look. Obviously they didn't tell me it was dead until they actually knew. And then got dressed, and then went and sat in another room waiting for the doctor to come and talk through the options. And by now we were sobbing our hearts out [laugh]. Boxes of tissues, and.

Did they manage to get any sense of when it had happened? Or was that?

They said they thought it was three or four days, something like that. But fairly recent. But not immediate. Which is why they said, you know, have you been able to feel movement and things, but. Looking back, perhaps I should have noticed, but I didn't. I really had no idea. Mmm.

And so what happened then? You were in a room waiting, and - did the doctor come and see you, or a midwife, or?

Yeah, a nurse - think she was a nurse - came first. And she was sort of comforting us. And the doctor came in sort of half an hour later, and just talked through, you know. Oh actually, thinking - there wasn't really any options. The only option was, you can take this tablet now, or you can come back tomorrow. So I just was keen to understand that, you know, they were absolutely certain, really. And he said yes, they were absolutely certain. So then I just took the tablet then, and they said , "We'll book you in for the birth on the day after tomorrow."
 

Nesta found that the layout of the bereavement suite allowed her time to prepare herself to see and hold her baby.

Nesta found that the layout of the bereavement suite allowed her time to prepare herself to see and hold her baby.

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Actually by the time things started happening, we got transferred to one of the special rooms, they'd become free. And it was when I was in that, I realised what an amazing facility they are.

You know, there was - We were much more comfortable. And they had - They had the sort of birthing room and the bathroom, and then they had a sitting area. You know, where you could make tea and coffees and things. And then there was also another little room, where you could put the baby afterwards. Which was amazing to have. 

And you stayed in there for the rest of the time?

And that's where I gave birth in the end, yeah.

Yeah. And it was special because it was just a bit more cosy, and you had that room?

It was special [sigh]. Yes, it was much more comforting, but that extra room was so useful. Because you can take your time to work up to see the baby. Because you don't know what to expect. I kept asking what to expect, and they said, "Well, it's a baby." [Laugh]. But Daniel, he was born completely in his sac, as can happen quite a lot - can happen anyway, can't it. But, so I couldn't see anything. And it was - He actually came out when I was in the toilet [laugh]. So I was in labour for a while. And the one thing I remember that you don't have with a live birth is they can give you morphine, they can give you any drugs you want. So it does make you more out of it [laugh].

And I went to the loo, and he actually came out then. And then they took him away to clean him up. And they put him in a little Moses basket in this room. And you can prepare yourself to go and see him. So I went to see him immediately.
 

Nesta’s husband was unsure about seeing and holding their baby. He was worried because he looked so delicate and found holding him in a Moses basket really helped.

Nesta’s husband was unsure about seeing and holding their baby. He was worried because he looked so delicate and found holding him in a Moses basket really helped.

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So I went to see him immediately. Looking back, I wondered if I was less affected because of these drugs I'd had. [My husband], my husband, he couldn't go at first. He took perhaps - I don't know - an hour or an hour and a half to work himself up to go and see. 

But he felt that it was important to go and see?

He did.

Yeah. And how did he find it?

He was - he was terribly upset. Very upset. We took - We took photos. And we sat in the sort of living area. Like I held - I'd held the baby directly, but I remember [my husband] didn't want to. But he did hold him in his basket. And he said it was mainly because he looked so delicate, he thought he'd damage him [laugh], or. He was tiny.

Mmm. So you picked him up and held him?

Yeah. For a long time. There was - It was really good, there was no - you know - pressure from anyone.
 

Nesta described how she found her memory box immensely helpful.

Nesta described how she found her memory box immensely helpful.

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It was immensely helpful. I was very touched, we were both really touched. We went on the website of the people who are making the boxes, and I think they're invariably made by people who've gone through a similar loss, haven't they. And it was - it was just so thoughtful. We still have it. We keep it upstairs. And we've added to it. You know, we've put the scan pictures in frames, and other photos that - the hospital took some professional photos of Daniel, which was great. Because they were very different to the ones we took. They, they did sort of close-up of features that, you know, can be family traits and things. Which didn't cross our minds to do that, and. So we've got - we've got that and we've added to it. There was a teddy bear - one to put with your baby, one to keep. A candle. And I remember we lit the candle on, on the 18th of February, when he was born, this year. Just remembered him. Some forget-me-not seeds. Yeah, a camera card as well. That was just very thoughtful, as you don't - you know - So you can - You can't take enough photos, can you, but. It was really nice.
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