#MovementsMatter Campaign for Tommy’s – Our story

#MovementsMatter Campaign for Tommy’s – Our story
I was really pleased to hear about the campaign Tommy’s are running to raise awareness of monitoring fetal movement, as it is a cause very close to my heart. Tommy’s are a charity that fund research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
Tommy’s campaign aims are to:
  • increase awareness of the importance of monitoring fetal movements
  • give women clear information about what to do and what they should expect when they seek help
  • empower women and give them the confidence to seek help.
Reduced baby movements can be the first sign that a baby is in distress. Recent research has shown that around half of women who had a stillbirth said that they had noticed that their baby’s movements had slowed down beforehand.
Stillbirth rates in the UK are very high – in 2015 the U.K ranked 24th out of 49 high-income countries. For every 220 babies born in the UK, one is stillborn.
A recent survey by Tommy’s showed that 52% of women would be worried about looking for help when they notice reduced fetal movements due to a fear of ‘wasting midwife’s  time’.
This perception needs to be changed.
Tommy’s wants to raise awareness of monitoring fetal movement and for mums to be, to realise its importance. A similar campaign was run in Norway and was successful in bringing down stillbirth rates by one third. As a mum who has experienced a stillbirth after reduced fetal movement, I want to do everything I can do to help raise awareness, and stop someone else having to go through what we did  This is our story.

 

I have been pregnant four times. Sadly only three times I have brought my baby home.
My first pregnancy with Izzie was in late 2009, everything was new, we were so excited. All I could think about was buying tiny little clothes and testing out prams. I had heard sad stories of miscarriage, and stillbirth and as my pregnancy progressed, my worries got smaller. I was ‘out of the danger zone’ once I had got through my 12 week scan. I was totally naive, and lucky to have a very straightforward pregnancy, except from being diagnosed as diabetic towards the latter part of it. As it turned out, despite the diabetes, Izzie arrived into the world quickly and relatively easily at 40+5 weighing a tiny 5lb 14oz. After a 5 days stay in the NICU with low blood sugar, we got to take her home and we were smitten – she was beautiful and such a happy ‘textbook baby’, she ate and she slept, and she was a total joy.
Newborn Izzie

 

This made it very easy to make the decision to try for another baby when she was around 18 months old. We wanted her to have a sibling and I wanted them to be close in age. As with Izzie, I fell pregnant again straight away in September 2011 and we were over the moon. The baby would be due a month after Izzie’s 2nd Birthday, May 25th 2012.
At 8 weeks pregnant, I had my first scare – a small bleed, which resulted in a visit to the early pregnancy unit at our hospital. We were reassured that baby was fine, and we were relieved. This was my first time during a pregnancy I realised how scared I could be at the thought of losing my baby.
My 12 week scan arrived and again, measurements were perfect and the little one continued to progress. The lady doing the scan advised I had an anterior placenta (where the placenta is at the front) and after googling this I wasn’t worried  – I did note that I may not feel the kicks as early or strongly.
My pregnancy progressed and I was aware of less movement than I had been used to with Izzie but I wasn’t overly worried. At my 20 week scan, baby didn’t want to play ball, and it took a long time to get the measurements – all was fine, although we couldn’t find out the sex as baby wouldn’t play ball – because of this we booked a private gender scan for the following day. We found out we were having a little girl and we were so happy –  a little sister for Izzie.
The next four weeks, were in hindsight a catalogue of errors. Ell was working away, and  I contracted the flu. I hadn’t been offered a flu jab as my midwife was off sick and I had been seeing various random midwives, and I think it just got missed.
At my midwife appointment following the flu, the midwife was running late and didn’t check babies heartbeat with the doppler. I had mentioned reduced movements and the midwife reminded me of my anterior placenta. This was on the Tuesday.
That Friday night I remember mentioning to Ell I was worried, I hadn’t felt much movement. I decided to have a warm bath and a can of ice cold coke to see if that would get her wriggling.
Whilst in the bath I remember a huge movement and it was painful but it reassured me. Looking back, this was the last movement I remember feeling.  The weekend passed and although I didn’t feel movement I think I was in denial. I also didn’t want to bother anyone. I also said to Ell my tummy seemed smaller – like my bump was really low and squishy, but figured she had moved into my back more perhaps.
On Monday morning, Ell had gone to work, and I realised I really wasn’t feeling any movement. I panicked. I rang the hospital and rang Ell to come home from work. When we got to the hospital with Izzie in tow I was in such a state. It was a small community hospital, and they took us into this room, which weirdly I remember had no windows. it was like a prison cell. They had no luck finding babies heartbeat with their doppler. They didn’t have an ultrasound scanner, but one of the midwives suggested this old portable scanner they had on site. It was the worst quality, but they could see there was no movement and no heartbeat.
I remember shouting ‘no, no’, and ‘we’ve already painted her nursery pink’  and that my hospital bags were all packed. In the space of five minutes, my world had come crashing down around me and I sat there sobbing and dazed whilst they rang GWH at Swindon and arranged for me to go straight there to be scanned again.
What happened after is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I had to take medication to make my body realise it had to go into labour, and return the next evening to give birth.
We returned home and I went in the pink nursery and saw all the pink clothes, the car seat, the packed hospital bags and I couldn’t bear to look at it. I knew I wouldn’t cope returning from the hospital after having my baby and be able to look at it, so I made Ell get down suitcases and help me pack everything away.  When we finished I moved some of Izzie’s toys in there, as looking at an empty pink room was almost as unbearable as seeing her things, that she would never get to use.
Sophie was born on Wednesday February 1st 2012, just after midnight, after a very quick and painful labour, weighing less than a pound. She was born on the day I would be turned 24 weeks pregnant.  Leaving the delivery ward without a baby, hearing other newborn babies around me crying was the single worst experience of my life.  I had to try to carry on with my life for Izzie, whilst mourning Sophie.
Having Izzie was my reason for getting through each day, but I knew I had to get pregnant again as soon as possible – another baby would never replace the little girl we had lost but I needed something positive to focus on.
Six weeks later, we returned to the hospital and were given the all clear to try for another baby. There was no reason why this might happen again, and Sophie’s post-mortem had shown nothing, except she was small for her gestation. The consultant suggested that the flu may have also caused complications but this wasn’t a definite reason why Sophie had died.
I fell pregnant with my first rainbow baby, Ollie very quickly after the appointment and found out I was pregnant on the 27th April 2012.
My pregnancy with Ollie was surprisingly positive. I had a wonderful midwife and consultant who were happy to give me extra checks, and I was no longer the naive person I had been, I was a mummy who had suffered loss and knew I couldn’t go through it again. I became very vigilant of Ollie’s movements as my pregnancy went along. My pregnancy was as straightforward as it could’ve been, and despite a few worrying moments and panic when I wasn’t sure if I had felt him move, I was always reassured and never scared to phone if I was concerned.
Ollie arrived into the world on the evening of the 19th December 2012, weighing 6lb 8oz and he was perfect. Izzie was besotted with her little brother and we finally began our lives as a family of four.
Newborn Ollie

 

In May 2014 we decided to try for one more baby to complete our family. I had always wanted three children and we were so happy to fall pregnant with Mason in September 2014.
As much as my pregnancy with Ollie had been positive, with Mason I definitely felt so much more anxious. I think with Ollie, I knew I had to be positive to make it through my pregnancy, but with Mason, the reality had really set in over what had happened with Sophie, and from the moment I felt his first kicks at around 18 weeks I was almost obsessed with monitoring them. I started suffering from bad dreams, where I would wake up suddenly and think I hadn’t felt him kick.
I lost count of the number of nights the bedroom light was turned on and I was pacing trying to encourage movements. Despite a few scares,  very patient husband and a few trips to the day assessment ward to be monitored, my pregnancy was straightforward and the midwife had no real concerns. She was lovely and was happy to see me to reassure me whenever I needed.
Me at 37+2 weeks pregnant with Mason

 

As I got to 37 weeks pregnant, I knew Mason was going to be a bigger baby than Izzie and Ollie, and his movements definitely became fewer as he seemed to start running out of room. At my midwife appointment at 38 weeks I mentioned I was concerned about his movements – we had been to day assessment a few times in the previous couple of weeks, but I was still a little surprised when my midwife rang the hospital and they asked me to go straight there.
When we arrived at GWH, I was placed on the monitor for half an hour, which showed very few movements, and although Mason’s heartbeat was fine, I was having three contractions in 10 minutes that I wasn’t feeling, and when I did, his heart rate became erratic.
Due to my history, the consultant was called and made the decision then and there to induce me  – she wasn’t happy to wait. They kept me in and started the induction process –  a pessary and then broke my waters at 9am then next morning. Mason was born quickly after a 2 hour labour on 14th May 2015, weight 7lb 14oz.
Newborn Mason

 

I was so grateful that my midwife had reacted quickly and got me to go to the hospital – despite my history, I was still worried I would be wasting their time. The look on the consultants face when they decided to induce me made me realise how important it was that I had gone to be monitored. Because of the wonderful midwife and consultant I now have a gorgeous 17 month old little boy.

Mason
We always hear about mothers instinct, and before I had children I always thought this meant when you had a child, but mothers instinct starts the minute you find out you have a tiny life inside of you. Always trust your instinct and if you think something is wrong, or you are worried about your babies movements, please contact your midwife or hospital as soon as possible. Never feel like you are wasting their time, or you are being a pain. If only one person is remind to monitor their babies movement after reading our story, Sophie’s legacy and her story will live on, as she does in our hearts.

 

Please give this video from Tommy’s a watch, and support their campaign.

 

#movementsmatter
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