Hi my name’s Laura and this is my story.
I was a healthy 17 year old, expecting my first baby. I found I was having a little girl who was due on my 18th birthday. ( 2nd of April). I was over the moon that I’d be sharing my birthday with my beautiful daughter. I’d decided to name her Layla Louise.
I was so ready to be a mum. The moment I saw her little heart fluttering away, that was when I knew what real love was.
Every midwife appointment and scan, the love just grew stronger and stronger.
On the 27th of March 2008, my world shattered into a million pieces and I experienced a pain I never knew was possible.
The day started off normal. I was due to see my midwife for my last check up before my baby girl was due to arrive. I’d had a bath and I’d felt her kicking away. I didn’t suspect for a moment that anything was wrong.
However when I got to the hospital to see my midwife, I suddenly felt really uneasy. I wasn’t sure why, but something just felt off. I laid on the bed and the midwife put the gel on my belly. She looked intensively at the screen for what felt like a life time. Then said she was going to have to get the doctor to come and check. I knew something was seriously wrong, as I couldn’t hear the sound I’d become so custom too. The strong loud heartbeat. This time there was nothing. Just silence.
A few moments later a doctor came and checked for a heartbeat. After a few minutes, he said I should get to the next hospital for an emergency scan. The hospital was over an hour away and I didn’t drive. I was in a total panic.
We eventually made it up to the hospital, thanks to a kind neighbour driving us up there.
As soon as I got I walked into the hospital I felt a wave of utter fear come over me.
I was taken to a special room and was told a doctor would be with me shortly.
As I waited, I examined every inch of the room to try and take my mind off it all. There was a large cross on the wall behind a pull out double bed. Infront of the bed was a bathroom with a shower and toilet.
It wasn’t like any other room I’d been in. It was full of sadness and grief.
The doctor came in with a monitor and advised that I didn’t look at the screen as he scanned me. I couldn’t help but look. I stared with all my might, looking intensively for any sign of life any moment. But there was nothing. It was then that the doctor looked at me and said the words that I’d prayed with all my might wouldn’t be said. He said “I’m so sorry to tell you but your baby has died”. I just screamed nooo. Then rang to the toilet and violently threw up.
After a little while the doctor and midwife explained what would happen next.
I was given some tablets vaginally and orally to get my body prepared for labour.
I was then sent home and was told to come back in two days ( the 29th), unless my labour started early. I was told that the room I found out Layla had died in, would be the room I’d have to give birth to her in.
My head was a complete mess.
I went back to my flat and just broke. I was surrounded by a life that would never be. A cot that would never be slept in, bottles that would never be made. So much stuff, so much grief.
It was torture being there.
The next day ( the 28th) I decided to go to the local funeral directors for advice. I knew that if I’d waited till after Layla was born, that I’d never of been able to walk through the door.
My whole body was shaking whilst I walked through the door. I was greeted by the sweetest lady. I will never forget the look on her face when I told her why I was there. She looked devastated, but remained extremely professional.
She sat me down with a cup of tea and explained how it’d all work. I’d never arranged a funeral before, so I was completely clueless.
I chose Layla a beautiful white wicker coffin. It was so small.
Afterwards I went home and packed a bag for the hospital. I couldn’t eat or drink a thing. I was so lost.
The next day I was at the hospital for 7am. I was given more tablets vaginally and orally. I was warned that the labour could take quite some time.
I just kept throwing up. I’m not sure if it was the pain or the anxiety. But I was just so sick.
By around 1pm the contractions started and at 4.10pm my beauty baby girl was born.
The labour was horrific. I was giving birth to my dead daughter, yet all I could hear were other mothers giving birth to their living babies. It was torture. Layla weighed 6lbs 5oz and was 52cm long. She had thick dark brown hair and the chubbiest cheeks I’d ever seen. As soon as Layla was placed in my arms I just crumbled. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I’d made her. This beautiful tiny little girl was mine. How can you feel absolute heartbreak and pride at the same time?
Something that still haunts me to this day is the sound that came out of her mouth as her neck went back. It was a quiet yet noticeable pop sound. The midwife did explain what it was but at the time, I didn’t process a word of it.
Because she was born late afternoon, I was allowed to spend the night with her. I didn’t sleep at all. I didn’t put her down once. At once point I remember the midwife coming in and I was doing cpr on her. I just remember begging the midwife to help her. But she obviously couldn’t.
The next day was horrific. I had to put Layla into the cot. To protect others feelings, they put a blanket over her then took her away. Leaving that hospital without my baby was just awful.
On the 2nd of April 2008, instead of celebrating the birth of my darling girl and my 18th birthday. I was registering my daughter’s death. In order to have her body released, I had to get a stillbirth certificate.
As I was waiting a couple came in with a car seat and a newborn baby. I just kept my head down, whilst the tears ran down my face. I couldn’t look at them or the baby.
It was later agreed that Laylas funeral would be on the 9th of April. Once her body was picked up by the funeral directors, I was told that I could spent 30 minutes with her twice a day. I was there every time. Layla was put into a little moses basket instead of a coffin. It was a mixture of light blue, green and yellow. She was just so small.
After a few days, I went in and noticed she has a long sleeved vest on. I asked the funeral director why, as I’d put her in a pastel pink and white dress. They said it was for the best and advised me not to look. I stupidly looked and was horrified. Her flesh had rotted away and there was just bone. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to my daughter. How was that fair?
On the day of her funeral I went to see her one last time. I didn’t want to put her down. I knew as soon as I did, that I’d never be able to hold her again. The funeral director was just incredible throughout.
Laylas funeral was a bit of a blur. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that we were there for a baby’s funeral. My baby’s funeral. As soon as the curtains were drawn, I just ran out and collapsed outside the crematorium. I remember the funeral director running over to me and making sure I was okay. I was so lost. So broken.
The next day I had a call to say the funeral directors had picked up Laylas ashes. I ran down to the Parlor as fast as I could. But then it took me ten minutes to build up the courage to walk through the door. When I finally went in, I was presented with a small metal urn with Laylas name on. Inside was a small bag of ashes. I couldn’t believe that after 9 months that this is how my pregnancy journey would end.
It’s almost 16 years now and some days it feels like I’ve just lost her. The pain is so deep and so raw. Other days I cope a little better but the pain is always there.
There are so many what ifs, so many what should’ve been.
My sons will never get to meet their sister.
It’s been nearly 16 years and I’m still just as broken. But after getting in touch with held in our hearts, I now finally believe that it’s okay not to be okay. For the first time, I don’t feel like an outsider anymore. I feel that baby loss isn’t a taboo subject. For that I’m so grateful.
I feel that getting in touch with held in our hearts, is the start of something petty special for myself and family.