Thursday, 26 March 2015

Grief is a difficult emotion to overcome....

Karen shares with Sands her story of her pregnancy and the delivery of her precious little girl.

I found out I was pregnant late September 2014 after I had begun to feel fluttering in my stomach and just feeling "a bit off" in general. The visit to the doctor after a positive pregnancy test confirmed this and both myself and my fiancée were completely in shock, we were excited but at the same time we had just gotten engaged and were planning a year to travel. Eventually the shock wore off and excitement followed and after our first dating scan hearing our baby's heartbeat at 7 weeks, we were in love. I became incredibly protective and wanted nothing more than to become a mother to this little human we had created.

I had a text book pregnancy; I was still going to the gym personal training, eating healthily and take my pre-natal vitamins. Morning sickness was minor but managed to strike without fail at 5.00am and 7.00pm each day. I started to get the tiniest of bumps and was feeling very at ease with life.

I went for my nuchal pre scan blood test on the Monday and my nuchal translucency scan was booked for the Wednesday. I was 12 weeks 6 days. I woke up that morning and I was quite apprehensive going into the scan and was very anxious. Looking back now perhaps I knew something wasn't right but I was also excited to see my baby for the first time. We went into the scan and the sonographer was very positive and outgoing, after a while I noticed the more images she took, the quieter she became. She finally was able to get an image of the nuchal fold, she said it was slighter larger than what she had seen before and would have to talk to the doctor and come back in 5 mins. 5 mins turned into 15 and both myself and partner tried to stay positive but my motherly instinct had kicked in and I was on the verge of tears knowing something was wrong. She returned after what seemed like an eternity to tell us that unfortunately the baby's nuchal fold measured 14.7mm which was the largest she had seen and that she had found a lot of fluid in our baby's heart cavity, brain and stomach. 

She then read us our risks with the combination of my blood test and age for chromosomal abnormalities which were perfectly normal to then reading our risks for the combined scan and blood test which put us as high risk as 1 in 6. At this point I broke down and we were able to leave. I went home feeling the saddest I have felt my whole life. I was able to get into the doctors straight away as we still weren't sure what these results meant, the sonographer was not able to give any more information. 

The doctor confirmed our worst fears that our baby was severely deformed due to an abnormality with hydrops. We were told the chances of the baby surviving in utero were non-existent and that we would need to consider termination. They were surprised the baby had survived for so long. We were completely numb; my world had just come to a halt as I tried to get my head around what I had been told. I was so angry and sad at the same time, why did this happen to us? Surely there was some chance that everything would be alright.

We were then referred to a private obstetrician (even without health insurance we decided that private was worth the money for the care we would receive) who confirmed that what we had been told was true and that in his own personal opinion for mine and my baby’s sake, we should proceed with the termination. We went home and broke the news to our families who live overseas and were visited by close friends who we had told about the pregnancy, while all very supportive it did not help with the grief and sadness we were both feeling. That Wednesday night was the worst of my life, having to come to terms with what should have been the day we could spread the word that we were pregnant with a healthy beautiful baby to knowing that in 2 days time I was going to be ending its life was unbearable. But I did not have a choice; I did not want my baby to suffer anymore.

We went in for the procedure on the Friday afternoon; the nurses were lovely and very respectful. My partner was not able to be with me prior or when I got out of recovery which I was initially not okay about but strangely I was okay once I had woken up from the general anaesthetic. I had a nurse sit with me the whole time to change my dressings and talk to me which was comforting. My partner came and picked me up from the day surgery at 9.30pm and we made our way home. Once I was home I felt completely empty and the tears started to flow, I was so confused and sad all in the instant. I cannot explain the emptiness from feeling so empowered by having this little being inside you to then not have it anymore; it's a feeling I hope to not have to cope with again. I had the following week off work to gather my thoughts and heal physically. 

We chose not to name our baby that we had lost, I was not sure at the time it was the right thing for me. We found out after further genetic testing that our baby was a little girl who had been diagnosed with monosomy x or more commonly turners syndrome. We were told it was a completely random event that could happened to anyone. This helped my healing process a lot as I nor my partner was to blame, we had done everything right.

Grief is a difficult emotion to overcome, it comes as it pleases and does not go away quickly. It has been less than two months since I lost my baby, I still have my moments when I will cry or get angry or avoid people who are pregnant or who have babies. I still have times when I feel sorry for myself and think that I should be nearly 6 months pregnant right now, showing my baby belly and starting to buy for my unborn baby. I know this feeling will pass and I welcome the day that it does. I am stronger every day and realising that life does not stop has pushed me to start moving forward. I know in good faith that I will be a mother again soon and I welcome that emotion any day.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637   

Karen Mackle

My name is Karen and I am a 28 year old living in Brisbane with my partner. I wanted to share my recent experience about the early loss of our first child in the hope that people can know that they are not alone and in their time of need I hope my story will help.          

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Came to early, gone too soon...

Genevieve is a new comer to the Sands blog. Here she talks about her pregnancy, birth and death of precious Amalie.

After nine years and five miscarriages, I finally had a joyful and life-changing journey through a remarkably straightforward pregnancy last year. I had many new experiences.  I relished discovering that my clothes are too tight.  I was relieved beyond words to get the “all clear” on the 18 week morphology scan.  I discovered that, despite my best efforts, I became one of those annoying super-gushy types of pregnant women.

The most surprising aspect to me, however, was the reactions of friends and colleagues.  Without exception their responses were overwhelmingly positive and supportive, for which I was immensely grateful.  What intrigued me though is that many started to treat me more inclusively, seemingly because I was now “one of them”, a member of the “parenthood club”.  When I gently explored this with a few, they reflected that it has been difficult for them to juggle their desire to talk freely about their kids while being sensitive to my situation, and that at times it has been easier not to engage at all.  I know I've played a part in this too.  

While the drive to procreate differs between individuals, for many of us, myself included, it can be an overpowering one.  The primal reproductive instinct is at the core of many people’s sense of identity and life purpose, as well as having cultural, social, spiritual, financial and familial implications. 
The second half of 2014 was the happiest time of my life.  I was in the “club” and on track to fulfilling my lifelong dream.

But everything changed on 1st December, when a simple urinary tract infection developed into a serious kidney infection (pyelonephritis) and started spreading to my blood (early sepsis).  It triggered a premature labour and a mad rush to the nearest hospital (we were out in the desert at the time, hours from civilisation). I didn't quite make it and ending up delivering my own baby, just metres away from the hospital entrance.  That was certainly not part of my birth plan!

Considering her dramatic and premature entrance, baby Amalie did remarkably well at first.  Her birth weight was over the magic 1000g line and her vital signs were excellent.  We were cautiously optimistic.

Alas, four days later things took a turn for the worse and, tragically, Amalie’s tiny system was overpowered by E. Coli, just as my body was starting to win its fight against the same bug. 

Suddenly and cruelly, I was ejected from the green side of the reproductive fence.   

I've received amazing support from friends and colleagues, but, understandably, many struggle, not knowing what to say or what to do.  Some either resort to platitudes or avoid the topic completely which can leave me feeling even more isolated.  I've found that focusing on the intention rather than the words is the only way to shield my heart from unintentionally insensitive remarks. 

After all, rarely can a response make things better. What matters is the connection.   Parenthood club member or not, I know I need to maintain the connection with my family and friends to get through this terrible time.  And to remember Winston Churchill’s advice: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

RIP Amalie Ella.  Came too early, gone too soon.
I waited so long for you and had you with me so briefly, but every moment we spent together will be treasured forever. My heart is in pieces right now, but I will use the strength of my love for you to try to focus on being immensely grateful for your life rather than being devastated by your death.
You’ll travel with me forever, my darling daughter.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637

Genevieve Yates

Genevieve is a GP, medical educator, medical writer and musician from the Northern Rivers region of NSW. After a long and difficult road to motherhood, her beautiful daughter, Amalie Ella, was born in December, 2014.  Tragically, Amalie died of neonatal sepsis after only four days.
Through her clinical work, teaching and writing, she hopes to she can use her experiences to help support both patients and other doctors in managing the complex emotions surrounding fertility issues and perinatal loss, and also encourage more open discussion in the general community.

Her website can be found at: