Sharnai’s Story

When we conceived Nova we were so excited, having endometriosis I was always told it would be difficult to conceive and yet there she was, two pink lines on a test the first month we started trying. It felt like a miracle, a true dream come true, and it was! But after three chemical pregnancies the excitement was tinged with so much fear.

It was a tough pregnancy filled with complications, and more needles than you could possibly imagine with daily blood thinners and finger pricks due to gestational diabetes, but she was so sooo worth it. Getting to twenty four weeks felt like a weight had been lifted and we could finally get excited, even if my waters broke early she was viable! It didn’t ever occur to me that she could die.

When I got to thirty two weeks I tested positive for covid. The first few days I was poorly but it was manageable, but a few days in I experienced some reduced movements and went to hospital to get checked out. There I was treated for covid and baby girl was monitored, we were both very poorly but after two days I was feeling much better and baby girl seemed much happier and moving lots too. She actually was moving way more than she ever had on the day we were discharged, also a sign something is wrong, but not one that is widely known about – I didn’t know until afterwards, I wish desperately that I had.

I was discharged and sent home to recoup but two days later, after an afternoon nap at thirty three weeks and two days I realised I hadn’t felt her move all day. Coupled with contraction pains every few minutes I assumed I was in labour and so off we went to triage to get checked out. It’s strange looking back, like my body knew something was wrong and I sobbed while repacking the case from my recent stay. My partner asked what was wrong, and I couldn’t tell him, a deep feeling of unease that something was terribly wrong. In the car that feeling intensified, she always moved in the car, why wasn’t she moving? I felt sick to my core, and we drove in total silence.

We arrived, and due to covid my partner had to wait outside. The midwife tried to get her heartbeat with the doppler, and compared with just two days earlier it seemed so tough to get her. She reassured me she heard something faintly and she would organise an ultrasound to check on her. She went to go and get my partner, and I cried again. Again, he asked me what was wrong, I didn’t want to say what I suspected. Scared that would make it real.

But it already was real, and just minutes later in the ultrasound room we heard the heartbreaking words ‘I am sorry, there is no heartbeat’. The next day or so is a blur, an induction and a horrendous 27 hour labour. But then she was here, and holding her was equally heart warming as it was heartbreaking. Our baby girl, who we had longed for for so long was here. Except she wasn’t, not really and it broke us to our core. I never imagined I’d be signing postmortem forms and not a birth certificate, planning a funeral and not a christening. How could I? It didn’t ever occur to me that she could die.

Our daughters name is Nova Grace Heyes, and she would have been 2 this July. Some say I didn’t really know her so it shouldn’t be so sad but I knew her. She was cheeky, and loved to make the sonographers fight for the measurements they needed. Like her little sister, she loved to hear her mama sing, and would kick around as though she was dancing. She loved watermelon and it made her kick so hard her daddy saw them for the first time. She was 5lb 8oz when she was born (at 33+3!) and every single ounce was perfection, she had curly brown hair like her mummy and looked just like me as a baby. 

We spent 4 perfect days with her before she had to go for her postmortem, we are ‘lucky’ our local hospital had a suite for us to do so. On the last day we took her for a walk in a pram and walked her over to the morgue. I still don’t know how my legs carried me out of that building, leaving my baby with strangers, it just felt so unnatural, it still does. She should be with her mama, I miss her every single day. No matter how busy I am, there is never a day go by that I do not miss her or think of her, I doubt there ever will be. She will forever be my oldest girl, my eldest child.

We tried again very quickly, I needed a baby in my arms as well as my heart. I don’t think I thought about how difficult the pregnancy would be or even the feelings I would feel once the baby arrived. I just knew I needed someone to hold, somewhere to put the intense love I was feeling for my daughter, at the time it was the only thing that made sense. The strange thing was I made my partner promise we would try again if something happened when I was like 6 weeks pregnant, it felt like I jinxed it, but I know I couldn’t have. We got pregnant again in Oct, and my due date was actually Novas birthday which felt so special. The day we found out we went in for a meeting on Novas post mortem results.

She died from something called covid placentitis, it is very rare but it basically means that covid caused irreversible damage to her placenta which then cut off her blood supply. Although rare in the UK so far more and more cases are being brought to light here and around the world. It broke my heart to hear that, to hear that in her final moments she may have been suffering and I didn’t even know. I hope with everything in me that she wasn’t aware, that it was peaceful.

Unfortunately at just under 8 weeks we lost that baby, we call them little bean, and it was a real blow. A different kind of loss but a devastating loss all the same. At this point we decided to get further testing to see why this might have happened as I also had three chemical pregnancies before Nova and we couldn’t face a further loss.

We purposely avoided ovulation as we waited to hear more about appointments but in Jan 2022 on Novas 6 month birthday we went for a date night to celebrate her life, and I happened to ovulate over a week late which was extremely unusual for me. But it meant that our littlest rainbow girl was conceived, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

As I sit and write this I am actually breastfeeding our youngest, our rainbow baby girl Cassidy Grace. We wanted them to share a middle name so they were always connected. I had planned to breastfeed Nova so it truly is a bittersweet feeling.

Cassidys pregnancy was tough beyond belief, the anxiety throughout, not knowing if I would get through it and bring her home. But we did. We received such beautiful loving care by both our local hospital and the rainbow clinic in Manchester, both of whom accommodated our every need including seeing us whenever we felt we needed reassurance. Which was pretty often, especially towards the end. We were induced at 37 weeks as I couldn’t deal with the anxiety any longer and at 37+6, on the 5th October 2022 Cassidy was born, weighing 8lb 3oz and looking like her big sister.

Cassidy has brought so much joy, smiles and laughter back to our lives. It is so complex the emotions I feel, when she does something new I feel so unbelievable joy but also so sad that we will never get to see Nova do the same.

Despite how hard it will be, Cassidy will always know about her big sister, she will know who she is and that she watches over her everyday. I feel truly truly blessed to have two beautiful daughters, I just wish they were both here with me.

Sharnai wears the rainbow skirt and holds her pregnant belly.  She holds a teddy bear in her arms.

Sharnai wears the rainbow skirt and  holds a teddy bear in her arms.

Sharnai wears the rainbow skirt and holds her pregnant belly.  She holds a teddy bear in her arms.

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