Sadie From Letters to Robin
Even before Sadie offered to write her story here for us, I knew I wanted her to be involved. Losing a baby through a termination for medical reasons (TFMR) is still a bit of a taboo subject. I came across Sadie and @letterstorobbin after sharing my own story and her honesty in sharing her own story is not only fierce but totally amazing. Here it is.
To look at me, “Fierce’ may not be the first word that comes to mind. I’m 5ft tall with mousy blonde hair and a bit of wonky smile. The definition of fierce is ‘strong and powerful’, I look like the opposite of both of those adjectives but we all know perceptions can be deceiving .
I know the day I found my Fierce . It was the day I gave birth to our son Robin. The day I had been living in fear of.
At our 12 week scan our baby had been diagnosed with Anencephaly a neural tube defect where the skull and brain don’t form as they should. Sadly babies with this condition cannot live outside the womb. Some babies make it to term and some live for a few minutes or hours. Me and my husband were utterly broken by the news. I felt like it wasn’t happening to us. That I was watching the storyline from the wings.
Everything seemed to move so quickly. We were met by a wonderful midwife. She understood that our baby was very much loved and wanted. After a long and painful week of going through our options and deciding what would be the best for us. We decided to bring the pregnancy to an end. This is a decision I still struggle with five months on but I know that in my heart of hearts it was the right thing for us to do. We decided to go for the medical management route. I needed to meet our baby and spend time with them. I asked my Mum to buy pyjamas and supplies for my hospital bag because I had no idea what I would need and I didn’t think my heart could handle the reality of what was about to happen .
On the 26th November 2017 I was induced. I wish I had been prepared for the Labour. The midwives described it as “just bad period pain” I’ve since learnt that Labour pains are just as intense if you are 40 weeks or 4 weeks pregnant. I wanted to go through the experience medication free. I wanted to feel everything as it was the only decision I had control over, but after a couple of hours in labour and the emotional pain of knowing this wasn’t the birth story I had imagined, I took the pain medication. We watched our wedding video during the Labour. It felt the right thing to do. I needed this to be a happy memory. Not one that I would block out of my mind. Whatever the outcome this was our baby. Our baby was not going to be defined by a fetal anomaly. They would be brought into this world with love. Surrounded by love.
After 4 hours of labour I delivered Robin. He was so tiny at just 13 weeks and 3 days gestation but he was just perfect. He was placed into a tiny moses basket. The hospital didn’t have small enough clothes to fit him. He looked just like his Daddy. We had no boy names picked out as I was convinced I was carrying a girl. We decided on Robin because of a trip to the lakes we took early on in the pregnancy. While we were there a little Robin came up so close to us and stayed with us for a while. It was such a special moment. One that has always stayed clear in my mind .
During the Labour I had this overwhelming sense of calm. Yes the pain was intense and the heartbreak unbearable but I don’t think I cried until we had to say goodbye to Robin at the hospital. There is an unspeakable sadness about leaving those labour ward doors without a baby in your arms. My arms physically ached for Robin. The people with balloons entering the Labour ward as we were leaving, a cold reminder of what I had lost. I wasn’t pregnant anymore, my baby was laying in a cold cot in the bereavement suite. Never to come home with me and his Daddy. I am so grateful for the calm I felt before that moment. It’s not a feeling I’ve ever felt before and I don’t think I’ll feel it again. Perhaps it was just denial, my mind protecting me from the trauma I was facing. Maybe that was the beginning of my Fierce. I had survived the hardest day of my life. Amongst the rubble I was still here. Still breathing.
My love for our son is fierce ‘strong and powerful’ I would have moved mountains for our boy. From the minute the pregnancy test presented itself as positive I was a mother. A fierce mother whose child filled my every thought. If love could have saved Robin he would have lived forever. I’ll never know why Robin had Anencephaly. There are lots of theories about neural tube defects but I’ll never know when it happened, the exact moment or why. This is something I’ll always battle with. Was it something I did? Or didn’t do? Something I ate? I think it’s only natural for any Mother to blame themselves in these situations. But I keep telling myself that I am a good Mother and I did everything to protect and love my baby.
I’ve started telling our story over on Instagram @letterstorobin. Being honest about my grief has led me to speak to some amazing women who have gone through similar journeys. It’s helped me to heal. Me and my husband Liam have stared planning some exciting fundraising ideas to help the charity Arc. The charity support families who have been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly during pregnancy. They support that we received from them with Robin has been incredible. Non of this could of been done without finding my fierce.
We are all fierce Mothers. Whether we are parenting a child in our arms or a child in our hearts.
Sadie lives with her husband Liam and our cat Nelly in Yorkshire and works in a school as an Early Years Practitioner. She writes about her grief for their son Robin who was diagnosed with anencephaly. Follow her on Instagram @letterstorobin.
If you are going through something similar ARC Antenatal Results and Choices offer support to families faced with an antenatal diagnosis. You can find them here.