On the 11th October we were weeks away from the birth of our much-wanted and much-loved baby and the countdown was most definitely on to becoming parents and starting our next exciting chapter. That day we were concerned as the baby hadn't moved much so I headed to our hospital (Queen Charlotte's) to be checked over and monitored. Having heard our baby's heartbeat I returned home. However, something still wasn't right and I returned the following morning. At that point I found out that our baby had died.
There is no possible way to describe the devastation, shock and panic that descends when you hear the words 'I'm so sorry, your baby has no heartbeat', and that day has changed us so much.
When we went into hospital that morning we didn't know the sex of our baby and it was certainly not how we ever imagined finding out that we were expecting a baby girl. After hours in the hospital, having confirmation scans and being talked through how they would induce a labour, we were sent home to prepare to welcome her into the world a few days later.
We went back into hospital on the 14th of October and after a long process, and much patience and perseverance from the consultants and midwives, our absolutely, beautiful baby girl was stillborn calmly and naturally at 3:40am on the 17th October. She weighed 5.7lbs and we called her Poppy Beatrice Hodgson. She was amazing.
The NHS at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital
At every turn, the NHS that we experienced blew our minds, it's an incredible institution and the people who work there are unbelievable human beings. From day one we were allocated a bereavement midwife and trainee bereavement midwife who answered our endless questions, talked us through everything in detail, supported us at every turn and helped us deal with many traumatic moments.
We were given a bereavement suite (which exists thanks to a wonderful mum who funded the space after her precious baby girl Jada was stillborn), a room with a double bed in, separate to our labour room, so that we could be together and have family visit us. Those in the hospital did all they could to help us have a natural birth and kept us updated on their findings at every point. Throughout our experience we were seen by dozens of medical staff (midwives, consultants, anaesthetists, student practitioners), all of whom were dedicated, knowledgeable and kind. The compassion, care and expertise we were shown made all the difference to the most harrowing experience of our lives, and despite how frantic the labour ward was and how busy they were, not once were we made to feel like any less of a priority than anyone else because our baby's safety wasn't at stake during labour and because she wouldn't be coming home with us, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
Why Poppy's Fund?
Despite all of this, there is so much more the hospitals under Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust need, to not only help people like us but also those having healthy babies. Whatever funding is allocated to maternity services, from what we know and have experienced, it is not enough to buy and fund everything that is required. The staff in triage, the labour wards and behind the scenes, are incredibly busy and don't always have everything they need to make everyone's experience a positive one. In addition, the sad truth is that there are many people like us, who require the tangible support and medical experience only the experts can offer and we want to help make giving that support easier for them and pay back a fraction of the kindness we received.
Thank you so much for any support you can give, we are all so very grateful.
(For anyone wondering, yes that is Poppy's perfect hand with her daddy's hand).