On Friday 12th April our worlds were flipped upside down after receiving the news that no parent should ever have to hear. Jason and I were expecting our first child and on this day were 24 weeks + 5 days pregnant with our little girl (although we decided not to find out her gender prior to this). I had gotten used to her movements from around 18 weeks and would usually expect a little wriggle last thing at night and first thing in the mornings. I work at this particular hospital so when Friday morning came around I woke up at the usual time of 5.30am and started to carry out my normal routine. Except this morning there was no movement. To cut a long story short, I presented to the delivery suite with reduced movements and a midwife used a doppler to check the baby's heartbeat.
I sent a text to Jason earlier that day to inform him of my concerns, but we kind of reassured each other that the baby was just a little more chilled out today so I said I'd contact him once I'd returned back to work. Little did I know I wasn't going to be returning that day, or the next. This is when our worst fears became reality.
With just myself and a midwife present, the only sound that echoed throughout the whole room was my own heartbeat that was being picked up by the doppler. I can't remember how long this period of 'trying to find a heartbeat' lasted for. It felt like hours but in reality it was just a few minutes. I heard the words 'I won't put you through this stress any longer, I'll find a doctor to get the ultrasound'. For around 5 minutes I lay alone on a delivery suite bed, in scrubs because my usual work tunic no longer fit, next to an empty baby's cot, staring at the clock as the sound of my own heart beat increasing became more profound in the moments that I waited for that doctor to come and confirm that I had in fact lost my baby.
The next 72 hours were amongst the worst hours of our entire lives, but filled with various emotions that simply cannot be explained in just a few sentences. The pain we felt during this time both physically and mentally is something we truly would never wish upon anyone - I feel so strongly about this. However, unfortunately, the topic of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death is still very much a taboo subject and even worse than this is the fact that it is a lot more common than we imagine. Every day in the UK, 17 babies are stillborn and a total of 1 in every 4 women will experience the heart-wrenching loss of a baby. Whilst it is a topic very sensitive to the world for fear of it happening and the unwillingness to ever accept we could be one of those 4 couples, it is an incredibly lonely experience for the unfortunate ones among us that belong to this club. Therefore this fundraising is not only to raise money, but raise awareness and help tackle the taboo of baby loss. It is not meant to instil fear or anxiety but open up the conversation so that less people feel 'ashamed' that they haven't returned home with a baby in their arms.
We couldn't be more thankful for the time and generosity we have received from every single supporter who has helped raise a total of £11,397.00 towards a bereavement suite at the NNUH for families who have to experience and undergo labour of a baby that has died in the womb. This change is imperative to future couples who find themselves in our situation. Thank You.
With Maddison's Movement, now that we have accomplished our first goal, we need to grow bigger and stronger with our second: PREVENTING STILLBIRTH.
We are aware that this is a very bold statement to make and the money raised through this movement alone isn't going to change the fact that babies will still die as a result of stillbirth. However, if we don't start small, then we run the risk of letting this subject become bigger than our abilities and that is not something as a family we are willing to sit back and watch.
This tragedy ripped through our family and friends like nothing ever has before and we will all live with an empty space in our hearts for the rest of our lives. So, our aim for change is to focus on small, individual reasons, that combined will make a huge impact to the people of Norfolk in terms of maternity care. Each time we reach our target for that particular purpose, this page will be updated with the next one and the target goal increased. ALL PURPOSES WILL AIM IN WORKING TOWARDS THE PREVENTION OF STILLBIRTH AND SUPPORT THE 'SAVING BABIES LIVES CARE BUNDLE VERSION 2'
Saving Babies’ Lives is a care bundle designed to support providers,
commissioners and professionals take action to reduce stillbirths. The
guidance was developed with clinicians, commissioners, charities and
royal colleges and is based on the best available evidence. It supports
the delivery of safer maternity care, as described by the National
Maternity Review, in Better Births.
Our First Purpose: As part of the saving babies lives care bundle, research has shown that taking a doppler measurement as a pregnant woman moves into the third trimester will give clear indication of blood flow along the uterine artery to the unborn babies brain and circulatory system proving its adequate uptake from the placenta. This scan needs to be performed by those who have undertaken specific training in order to correctly monitor. This means that trained midwives or sonographers are required to perform this measurement, however many implications stand in the way of this being carried out efficiently. The trained midwives at the NNUH only have access to a clinic in the evening to perform these scans. Meaning they are not easily accessible to all who may need them due to time and staff restrictions. A room dedicated to this clinic is urgently required in order for these midwives to have the facilities and software needed to perform this scan during the day whereby more women can be seen and accurately monitored without time pressures and facility constraints.
Any donations no matter how small or efforts of fundraising towards this will be hugely appreciated, for we know exactly how beneficial this really is. However, if this is not possible, then I ask you all to find the time to have a conversation/read a book/reach out to someone who may have experienced it and to help us keep our little Maddison's memory alive through simple conversation.
Thank you, Ashleigh & Jason.