A fathers perspective on Pregnancy, Labour & Birth – Guest Post. Caution 1 or 2 Areas of this post may be Upsetting.
I will add in a pre warning for readers here. This post will definitely give a good pull on your heart strings. Andy has shared what I can only imagine a very difficult experience of the loss of their Son Henry.
I just want to thank Andy so much for opening up and sharing this with you all.
Parental Series – Guest Post – Pregnancy, Labour & Birth.
I became a dad at quite a young age, Bethany and I were married in July 2010 just after turning 22.
Soon after we found out Bethany was pregnant and expecting our first boy, Bradley, who was born in the May before our first wedding anniversary.
The Pregnancy, Labour and birth with Bradley.
Our first pregnancy with Bradley was a very simple and healthy pregnancy, being so young we were quite unaware of many of the complexities of being pregnant and other issues that can arise. We only visited the hospital when we were due for scans, or antenatal appointments and of course when we went into labour.
We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl in this pregnancy. It was nice to not know, but we didn’t have any names for girls, loads for boys but we just could not think of any girls names.
Beths stages of labour with Bradley were pretty long, I know first time labours are known to be long. It must have been near 24hours from when we were admitted to Bradley being born.
As the labour was so long, towards the end Beth was getting tired and her contractions were slowing. She had to have that drip that helps your contractions, although they picked up a little Bradley wasn’t moving down.
It turned out he’d got his shoulder stuck and would need some help getting out. Beth was given an epidural and we were taken off to theatre for some assistance with the Birth.
Thankfully they were able to help Bradley out with the ventouse method, otherwise it would have meant having to have a Cesarean Section.
After a couple of nights in hospital we were ready to go home, we settled in quite well at home, we got on well with most of the new baby duties. I had my two weeks paternity leave and went back to normal hours after that.
As this was our first pregnancy, at that time I would have described the labour as hard and tiring. But looking back, it was not that eventful and we were fortunate that Beth avoided having a c-section and her recovery was fairly fast too.
The Pregnancy, Labour and Birth with Austin.
When Bradley was around 18 months old we found out we were pregnant again with Austin. Beth was back at work at this point. We had help from Beths parents with a lot of our childcare which was so helpful.
We chose to find out whether we were having a boy or girl in this pregnancy. This was purely down to making setting up at home easier. We had a few instances with Austin of reduced moments, but upon going to hospital to be checked he quickly picked up again and we were told everything was ok.
Again this pregnancy was simple, until we got to the easter holidays. We have gone away to Cornwall for a week in St Austell during the half term. It was while we were away that Beth began to feel unwell and she getting high temperatures almost all the time, these settled with paracetamol. We ended up coming home early as we wanted to see our midwife to get checked
First of all there was not real sign of any problems, but these temperatures kept coming back throughout the rest of April and through May too. We kept going back to the Midwife to have check ups but nothing was found. It wasn’t until the beginning of June when these temperatures being more persistent, that Beths heart rate was measured at the same time as measuring Austins while she had a temperature.
With Beths heart rate being 140bpm this pushed Austins up to 200bpm. Our midwife called the day unit at the hospital straight away and told us too attend without taking any paracetamol so the hospital would see what was happening.
Here began a hospital stay of a couple of days, while the doctors tried to find out what was wrong.
Here we began to worry about what was going to happen. I stayed in hospital with Beth for a few nights, sleeping on a bean bag on the floor.
A few days after we were admitted we were told Beth had contracted a virus called Cytomegalovirus (CMV), an apparently common virus but one that no doctor or midwife had seemed to have heard of? If this virus is contracted during pregnancy it can cause hearing, sight and learning difficulties.
After we found out about the virus we were promptly removed from the hospital and sent up to St Georges in Tooting for growth scans and to see a specialist in infectious diseases.
Things got pretty scary at this point, I was so worried about what they were
going to find and what it all meant. It seems no ones really tells you anything until the last minute.
When you just want to know what could be happening, you are in the dark until you’re told.
After seeing a consultant and having the growth scan, there were no immediate issues found with Austin, we felt a little better. I did some research into the virus when we got home and joined some Facebook groups. I found that the effects of the virus was different in many children so we really had no idea how it would have affected Austin.
At 36 weeks and 4 days Beth went into labour, it was such a slow start. And because it was a couple of days before 37 weeks the hospital didn’t want to intervene and encourage the labour along.
Beth was determined to not let the labour stop so she was on that gym ball in the hospital trying to get things happening. I’m sure this labour was longer than Bradley’s. Once Beth had managed to get things going, and lots of back rubs from me. The midwives were sure now that the labour had progressed to a point at which they’d be able to intervene…thank god!
So with that Beth’s waters were broken and within maybe 30 minutes Austin had popped out, by this point all the drugs Beth had had had worn off and it was too late to have anything else. So amazingly she got him out naturally. I did get bitten during the Birth process but I’ll allow her that one.
Austins birth was followed by loads of tests. He’d had to have his pupils dilated to have his eyes checked, he was taken for an MRI to check for chalk deposits on his brain at just hours old.
He was having hearing screenings every year, until this year he was discharged. We’d thought this pregnancy was tough towards the end they seem to be ramping up their complexities each time don’t they. It wasn’t until the boys were nearly 4 and 6 that Henry was born.
In the mean time we had moved into Beth’s mum and dads, I had gone back to college and changed jobs, and then we moved house again, before falling pregnant with Henry.
I just want to add a small piece here as a pre-warning. This part of Andy’s story of the Pregnancy Labour and Birth of his children is a very sad area. Something that no parent should have to go through. So thankful for Andy sharing this as the loss of a child isn’t shared very often. Tissues at the ready, I will leave the rest with Andy to share this part of his story.
This happened fairly quickly and without any worries or anxieties. As Beth’s pregnancy history was building, it meant that we had check ups, these seemed often but weren’t often enough.
We were moved from midwife lead to Consultant lead care due to the CMV history, and later in the pregnancy Beth was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. This was after a couple of instances of reduced movements and increased waters were found.
This is where we kick ourselves for putting all our trust in the people caring for us during this time.
We were happy after seeing the consultant on occasions that we had no risk from CMV during this pregnancy, but after the diagnoses of GD we had to wait a couple of weeks to see a diabetic nurse to be given advice on how to diet control and measure bloods. During the wait Beth did her best to monitor what she was eating but it was the advice that we needed. After seeing the diabetic nurse, we were supposed to see a diabetic specialist to talk about the risks of GD as these were gravely played down by the nurse.
Looking back on this, I believe it was due to Beth not really being the risk group for GD. She has always been slim and we were still young.
We did what we were advised to do, eat sensibly and check bloods. Beth got on very well, there wasn’t really a lot I could do apart from support her through the frustrations of not being able to eat what she wanted.
We did what we believed to be right and what we were told. When Beth was 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant she awoke to Henry not moving, she felt no kicks
We took the boys to school and headed down to the antenatal unit. So many scenarios were rushing round my head, had he died? Was he just in a different position? We lead ourselves into a sense of security when we got the hospital and he still had a heartbeat. We thought..YES, he’s ok.
But things did not play out that way. We were put on a CTG monitor straight away, and within 10 minutes the trace was suspicious, he wasn’t moving at all and his heart rate had no accelerations.
So we were monitored for another 10 minutes to be reviewed by the consultant after that. We the trace was due to be reviewed the consultant, and no other consultants seemed to be available.
Even though the trace had not changed somewhere along the line a fresh eyes was carried out between the midwife’s and all was said to be ok.
We were monitored for two hours, 9 – 11am and then moved to a bed. No monitoring was in place and they had decided to begin monitoring again in 8 hours! They also booked us in for a scan at 4pm.
It is so hard to write this with any kind of naivety, it shocks me know how little haste was put on the situation. We where transferred to the delivery suite after the antenatal unit closed, Beths waters were broken at 8pm, sending Henrys heart into bradycardia.
The Birth he was delivered by Emergency C section within 18 minutes. He was delivered in very poor condition, whilst he was being cared for and Beth was in recovery I was left in the empty delivery room alone for nearly 5 hours. This must be scariest moment of my life, not knowing how either of them were and what was going on.
Henry was moved to another hospital in the early hours of the next morning where he could get specialist care, we joined him the evening. This is were we lived for the next few days, after many tests and conversations with doctors. We were told his condition would not improve and he would never have any quality of life. We did what we thought was best for him after all the testing he’s been through.
We chose to take him off his ventilator on his 4th day. He was with us for an hour and 10 minutes off the machine and we just held him and he looked at us. We held him as he passed away and we stayed with him into the evening, we got him dressed and tucked him into his Moses basket and said our last goodnight.
I can’t imagine I will ever feel more broken that I did at that point. We didn’t know until about a week later that the hospital had made a mistake in Beth and Henry’s care. The time between leaving the hospital and having his funeral was full of phone calls to arrange his funeral and deal with calls from the hospital where he was born. I’m not sure how I managed all the calls and arrangements, but I guess I was just in autopilot, looking after Beth and the boys as well.
Before Henry was born we had planned to move up north, as I had got a new job. But we had to put this all hold as we felt we needed to be near our family.
Life has been up and down since, but we did eventually manage our move. And my job was kept open for nearly a year. We are getting to grips with life again.
When we became pregnant with Madeline, a whole new level of anxiety moved in, I felt so out of control.
The Pregnancy, Labour and Birth with Madeline.
When we found out Beth was pregnant with Madeline,I felt so much more detached from this pregnancy. I wanted to feel everything Beth was feeling as I had no idea what she was feeling. I felt I was more nagging with little things, I think in a way I wanted to know every detail. Even more so when she felt something wasn’t right. I was always pushing her to go into hospital even if she felt she didn’t need to.
We got through the pregnancy with weekly visits to the hospital, sometimes twice a week. We were monitored closely for diabetes. Plus weekly visits to the midwife. We had extra scans towards the last half of the pregnancy too. It did become a chore to go to the hospital so often, but it was of course so necessary to make sure Madeline was ok.
Just before Madeline was born I went over to Ellesmere Port to have a portrait tattoo done of Henry wrapped in the angel wings. We had Madeline’s name chosen for a while so I made sure I got all the kids initials added to my tattoo.
In one of our last consultant meetings we managed to bring our c section date brought forward. I felt quite calm about the delivery and my wife giving birth at this point, I liked that it would all be planned and organised.
Little did I know, but little miss had other ideas. Beth was getting low down pains on the morning of the 1st July. I was at work, she’d been to see her midwife and was told to go in to get monitored. I rushed home from Bradford to Barnsley and we got to the hospital probably just in time.
Beth was on the monitor and it was noted that Madeleines heart rate dropped a couple of times but came back up. Before we knew it we were getting prepped for theatre, I felt like I was taken straight back to when Henry was born, the panic set in.
Madeline was born just after midday we can only praise the way the hospital dealt with us through this pregnancy. I think Madeline will be our last, we would love to have more but I don’t think we can cope with the heightened anxiety and months full of worry.
During all pregnancies I tried to just be there for Beth, and our growing family. I hope if you’ve read this far I have been able to help in some way. Not every pregnancy, labour or birth is a walk in the park, not
everything goes to plan, and not every pregnancy ends in loss. This has been my experience.
I could have left out the unimaginable pain that losing Henry caused but I couldn’t leave him out.
He is part of our lives and always will be.
I cant thank Andy enough for sharing his story of the Pregnancy, Birth and labour of his children. It must have been extremely difficult to write and share the story of the loss of their Son Henry. One thing no parent should ever have to go through.
I do hope that you enjoyed Andy’s post and will Check out his Blog and give him a follow on his Instagram to follow him and his families activities. Andy and his family have also formed a Charity that aims to Provide Bereavement support to Parents and Their Families in and Around South Yorkshire. You can find more Details at the Henry’s Hope Charity Website and also on the Henry’s Hope Charity Instagram page.
I have previously written and Shared my own story and experience of the Pregnancy, Labour and the birth of my three daughters – Pork Chop, Pig and Beast. I also had a guest post written by Mark from The Stevenson Life sharing his Story with his son Grayson.