Patient narrative: losing a baby during pregnancy

“The blankness in my brain was gone. The labour pain was gone too. I was beginning to cry. The midwife asked me if she should baptise him. I said yes. I would do anything that would let him rest in peace. I do not know how much he suffered.” (Times) >

MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE: My partner and I lost our beautiful baby boy at 29 weeks, says RANJU UPADHYAY

IT WAS POSITIVE. I was over the moon. I could not wait to tell Dilip. When he came home in the evening, I told him the news and he was happy too. We went out for dinner: it was our wedding anniversary and there could not have been any better gift for me.

I booked with Dr Declan Keane. I knew my baby and I were in the safest possible hands. I didn’t have to worry about my family not being close by. Everything was going to be fine, I thought. I could not wait for my first appointment.

Mum would call almost every day to see how we were doing. She asked me if I was going to the same hospital as I had done when I was expecting our daughter, Aarya, and I said yes. I could sense the concern in her voice. I told her that Dublin is considered the safest city in the world to give birth. She said she would arrive two weeks before the due date.

Dilip and I went for the first visit. He did a scan. It was great to see the little heart beating. When Dr Keane said, “You’re definitely pregnant and definitely one baby,” we smiled. I found Dr Keane very reassuring. We liked him.

On the 20-week scan we were told that everything looked perfect as far as a scan could tell. We decided to find out the gender for this baby. The nurse scanning said it was a boy. We were happy again. A girl and a boy; the perfect family, we thought.

I started to think about Hindu names for boys. Abhinav felt nice.

On my 26-week visit, Dr Keane said the baby weighed 800g and was a good weight for 26 weeks. I went home happy and reassured one more time. My next visit was four weeks later.

On the afternoon of November 26th, my 29th week, I felt a cramp in my belly. It was quick and painless. An hour or so later I felt another one. I did not understand what was happening. Aaarya was playing in the living room. I decided to lie down on the couch. After sometime I felt another cramp. I got concerned. I thought I need to monitor how frequently it was happening. There was a pattern to it, towards evening it was happening almost every 35 minutes.

When Dilip came from work, I explained what was happening. It was too late to find someone to mind Aarya. All three of us headed for the hospital. Just before we left for the hospital I noticed there was a slight show. I got worried. On my way there I did not feel any cramp.

The midwife tried to listen for the heartbeat, and it looked like she could not. They scanned and said the baby appeared very quiet. I simply looked at them not wanting to understand what that meant. Then they said there was no heartbeat. I was stunned. I felt my brain go blank. I did not know what to do.

They brought me to another room. Dilip and myself looked at each other in disbelief. Dr Keane came and did another scan, the baby was indeed quiet.

The midwife said they would keep me in the hospital as she felt I might go into full labour any time. But Dilip would not be able to stay because Aarya could not be kept there. Dilip went home with Aarya.

November 26th was the night of the first winter snow of 2010, and I was in Holles Street delivery room. Soon after Dilip left, I felt my labour advance; cramps were stronger, painful and more frequent. They gave me something for pain relief. Even before the pain relief could take effect, lifeless Abhinav arrived. He weighed 780g. He had stopped growing.

The blankness in my brain was gone. The labour pain was gone too. I was beginning to cry. The midwife asked me if she should baptise him. I said yes. I would do anything that would let him rest in peace. I do not know how much he suffered.

She said a prayer for him. She asked me if I would like to see him. I said yes: how could I not? The moment I saw him, tears flooded. He was beautiful, just like his sister. I cuddled him and felt his soft skin. I cried more. I felt a deep and intense pain within me. It was more painful than any pain I had experienced before. I did not know pain of that magnitude existed. Every cell in me cried that night. I was hurt, I was disappointed, I was angry, I was sad. I wanted to beg to bring him back to life. I wanted to hear him cry, even if just once.

Lying beside my lifeless baby, I thought about dad. Sitting in the southeast-facing balcony on a pleasant sunny October afternoon in Kathmandu, we had talked for a long time. He had said if we were going to live so far away from them, I would need to be very strong. I promised him. I assured him that Ireland is a very friendly country to live in. He said life can offer painful surprises. I agreed. The news of his illness was one of those surprises.

Soon after his 75th birthday, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We were shocked. He used to be an example of perfect health. I had gone home to celebrate Diwali, for what we all knew would be the last time with him. Dad died on December 26th, 2006.

Sitting beside dad, on a warm lovely day, it was easy to promise to be strong, but to find any strength on that dark, cold snowy November night in Holles Street, after delivering a lifeless baby, was not possible. But strength came from the Coady family, especially Fergus and Carmel, and our friends and colleagues who offered such great support, kindness and company at that time.

The midwife brought me to my room. The TV screen above my bed displayed a picture of a little baby and read “Well done mom”. She thoughtfully turned it away.

All that I could do that night was cry. I tried to think why it happened; I could not. I could not make any sense of this. I do not smoke. I do not drink. I eat healthily and yet my pregnancy was unsuccessful. After placenta analysis it was revealed that the placenta was infarcted. But we do not know why the placenta was infarcted.

Next morning, I looked outside the window. The Holles Street grounds were white with snow. There were happy mums in the hospital that day, but there was no joy for me. The room felt more like a prison cell.

I came home. We discussed how to perform his last rites. We decided to bury him so that we have a place to visit him when we wanted to. The following Friday, we went to the hospital for his service. I brought one of the blue blankets that I had bought for him, to wrap him up and to let him know that I love him. Lying in the little white coffin he looked like a doll. I held his coffin as we drove to Glasnevin Cemetery. My tears continued to fall on his coffin.


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