To tell a story that opens your life up to everyone isn’t easy . . . but talking really does do the world of good.
My (our) story, like everyone else’s, starts a happy one. We had always planned on having a little brother or sister for Elsie. We found out we were expecting and the joyous plans started to be put into place.
The date for the 12 week scan seems to take an age to arrive! Come the day we excitedly went along to Yeovil hospital, ready to come away with that grainy black and white photo which we could then happily share with the rest of the world . . . this wasn’t to be.
Twins run in my side of the family and we joked with the sonographer about this beforehand. Shortly after starting the scan she confirmed it was twins but very poorly twins.
You are numb, simply numb and I’m not ashamed to say I cried, I cried a lot, I still do.
We could see on the screen these two tiny little hearts beating away but to even our untrained eye things didn’t look the same as with Elsie. We looked at each other and there was nothing that we could say to each other that would ease or comfort this situation. We did the only thing we could and held hands. We left the hospital numb, not with the grainy black and white image as hoped but a leaflet about medical terminations for fetal abnormalities.
It was 48 hours later that we had the call from Bristol’s Fetal Medicine Unit, a further 24 hours and we were there. During this time your mind is racing, you can’t think about anything else, ‘what if they were wrong?’. ‘What if there’s been a mistake?’. Even the ‘it’s all been a dream’ scenario pops into your head but no, no mistake, no dream, just a harsh reality.
We couldn’t fault the staff at both hospitals, they were amazing but even they couldn’t do anything but confirm the news, ‘on scan today sadly there are major and lethal fetal abnormalities’. There was no choice, there was no decision to be made, our very much wanted babies were not going to make full term.
A week later we were back at the hospital for Danni to be induced, induced! This amazing woman went through all the pain of labour for what? No crying babies, no cutting of the cord, no skin to skin, no meconium poo to deal with . . . none of the joys of bringing children into the world.
We were asked if we wanted to see them, although it was probably the most painful thing to do I’m glad I did, they were wrapped in the smallest of blankets, which we still have, our identical twins, so very much loved, so very much wanted.
We were later told they were girls . . . the words ‘shit’ & ‘fan’ sprung to mind!
The day of their funeral was tough, we thought hard about whether Elsie should be with us. Would it be unfair on a two and a half year old to be at the funeral of her little sisters? She was so excited about them, she even gave up her cot for a ‘big girl’ bed ready for them. She seemed to understand that they were very poorly and was content in knowing they had gone up to the stars. As a family we felt it was important for her to be there and to be involved.
Time is a great healer, to a certain extent this is true, you learn to cope. Life does go on, it has to, especially when we still have to look after Elsie, go to work etc, but you never forget, they never leave you. We, as a family, always talk of them, we have their ashes at home, we light a candle for them every night, we ‘celebrate’ their birthdays but we still grieve.
There are still times when I’m driving along and the thought of them will catch me, something triggers it, a thought, a song (normally bloody Coldplay), where I have to pull over because I’m sobbing. I cry but then I smile because although they are not with us, they still give me joy.
There has been a lot of talk recently (not enough) about mental health, especially for men and it’s so easy to for us to bottle it all up and try to deal with it all alone, but believe me it doesn’t work. Talking is key, just to release thoughts and share them with someone else helps. Yes, there will be people that are simply uncomfortable talking about it but there are others who will listen.
I wanted to write this piece to highlight that baby loss isn’t just a situation where men have to be the ‘stronger person’. To not show any emotion or to not cry about it because we feel we have to be strong and support our families, we also need support too.
18 April 2016, Luna & Lupus were born, they did exist. It doesn’t matter how far along you were into a pregnancy, it’s still a loss. As soon as that pregnancy test tells you that you are going to be a parent it's real, don’t let anyone tell you different. Life can be so fucking unfair, sometimes though no fault of your own.