A woman has suffered a devastating loss as she prepared to give birth after a “textbook” pregnancy only for the doctor to discover there was no heartbeat.
Abby Marie Evans, 18, from Pontypridd in Wales, had suffered a number of early miscarriages in her life.
So when she went into labour at the end of June, she was over the moon, reports Wales Online.
But when she went from home to hospital after her contractions started getting closer everything changed.
“I went into hospital on June 30 because my contractions were getting closer and closer,” said Abby.
“We went over and they put me on the monitors, and that’s when they discovered that there was no heartbeat then. They had to check about three different times, just to be safe, but there was still no heartbeat.”
Devastated, Abby and her family were left to come to terms with their sudden loss for only a short amount of time before she needed to be rushed off in order for her to give birth.
Miscarriages: the facts
Up to one in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime.
An early miscarriage is a pregnancy loss that takes place within 13 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A pregnancy loss between weeks 14 and 24 is referred to as a late loss. Late losses are much less common than early losses.
Early losses account for over 50,000 admissions in the UK annually, which will equate to approximately 2,500 admissions in Wales.
Miscarriage can cause both significant physical symptoms and pain, as well as considerable psychological distress.
A recent study found four in 10 women reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after pregnancy loss.
“They gave us a bit of time as a family and came back in then,” said Abby.
“I still had to go through the labour process knowing he was stillborn.”
As someone who had experienced miscarriages in the past, Abby was not new to the pain of losing a baby. However, she explained, this time was markedly different.
“I’ve suffered early miscarriages beforehand, but obviously this was ten times worse,” she said.
“At the start of my pregnancy I was really anxious and worried, thinking it was going to happen again. But then passing the nine-week mark, it was just a massive relief, thinking everything was going to be fine. There was just so much hope, so being in that room and finding out there was no heartbeat was just the most gut-wrenching feeling.”
Abby vividly remembers how she felt when the news was given to her that her baby didn’t have a heartbeat.
“It was just like somebody had ripped my heart right out of my chest. I don’t even think it can be put into words how horrible that feeling was. It still is, really.”
She added: “I was really shocked. The pregnancy had been so perfect, like something straight out of a textbook. It was so straightforward. There was never any problems even up until the day I was in labour.”
Abby gave birth to her son, Elijah, at 5:31 in the morning. Like countless other new mothers, she wanted to spend as much time with her baby boy as possible, showing him to her parents and giving him cwtches. However, unlike other new mothers, when Abby left hospital to go home, she was not able to take her newborn with her.
“I stayed there for a few hours, spending time with him and my family, and then they did blood tests and routine things and said I was free to leave when I wanted to,” said Abby.
“So I left in the early evening, but I returned the next day to see the baby.”
For the next few days, Abby made the trip back to Merthyr to see Elijah in the hospital.
Overcome by grief, she wasn’t sure what to expect on her first visit. However, what she wasn’t expecting was to have to walk through the maternity ward on her way to see her baby.
“Every time I walked past I broke down just hearing the heartbeats and seeing the babies,” said Abby.
“Every time it brought me to tears, and it didn’t get any easier over the period we were there. We were there then for about five days, back and forth every day to see my baby. And every day, we were seeing and hearing those things.”
Abby explained that whenever she went to visit Elijah, she could hear the heartbeats of other newborn babies on monitors, just days after she found out that her own baby’s heart had stopped.
“A bit further up the corridor you could see the newborn babies. You could see all these new parents,” she said.
“It’s just awful, to see it and hear it, after you’ve just lost your baby. I think there should be a separate section. It’s a horrible feeling you can’t even describe. A few days after I was sat there, not feeling or hearing my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor, it was an awful thing to go through.”
Abby has opened up about the blow this dealt to her mental health and the added grief it caused her.
“It’s really affected me,” she said.
“I’ve suffered with my mental health anyway before this, so this has just taken a massive toll on me.”
Now, explained Abby, she wants to see practices implemented across Wales to ensure that other mothers who have suffered stillbirths will not have to endure what she did.
“The staff [at the hospital] were amazing and I appreciate their help, but there should be a separate section altogether,” she said, discussing what lessons she would like people to take away from her experience.
“I’d like there to be a section in hospitals for the women who are going through what I was going through. It’s bad enough to go through what you’re going through, but to have to see and hear all of that on top is just awful.”