The decision to have a baby was one that took me a bit of time. Matt and I have been together since we were 19 and from day 1, Matt knew he wanted to have children. For me, it was a ‘one day’ thing. Sure it would happen, but I didn’t have any set date or age I wanted it to.
After we got married in October of 2016, I felt like we were in the right space; married, home we had a mortgage on, pets, so of course a baby came next right?
Not so much. We spent 10 months trying and by our first wedding anniversary of booked us in to see the GP.
Cue the next 2 years saving money to fund 4 IVF cycles. We did 2 through one clinic that made no changes and treated us like an ATM and then another 2 with a second clinic.
Both cycles at the second clinic resulted in pregnancies that ended in miscarriages.
As we prepared for our frozen transfer early 2020, I had been experiencing extreme exhaustion. After mentioning to a friend who asked the redundant “Could you be pregnant?” We left the party, bought a test and went home.
I’ll never forget how quickly that second line came up, or how strong it was.
That positive test just turned 2 and she is the light of our lives. Nora has become the most incredible, independent, sassy person and it’s been amazing watching her grow.
7 months after Nora was born we found ourselves in the unique position of having fallen pregnant again naturally. Shock was the overriding tone, until we saw Iris on the screen. Her pregnancy was so smooth, lacking in the back and pelvic pain I had with Nora and my focus was for a VBAC. So I was calm when people asked if I was impatient for her to get here. I was in no rush, she would be ready when she was ready.
I made it to 37+5, the gestation I delivered Nora, I made it to 38, 39, then 40 weeks and then we got COVID. So we isolated and stayed home and by 40+6 I was free.
I had a post dates appointment on the Monday, Valentine’s Day at 41 weeks just to make sure she was fine.
I thought I’d be fine, but we made the journey in to the hospital anyway. It took me over an hour to get into a room from the COVID tent outside and then over an hour to be seen by a midwife and have the ECG monitor attached. The contractions were being picked up straight away, but there was something wrong with the screen and Iris’ heartbeat wasn’t being picked up. The midwife assured me everything was ok as she could “hear her moving” and see her moving by the changing shape of my pregnant belly.
She ducked out to get the head midwife and I assumed nothing. I remember messaging Matt complaining at how long this had all taken and how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten since 5.30 that morning with Nora before dropping her at childcare.
This midwife had the same problem, couldn’t find it, she must be rolling around, let’s get an ultrasound machine.
I’ll never forget how hard the head midwife held my hand. Or how I knew immediately that Iris had died. The wand passed over her rib cage as soon as it was on my stomach and I could see the stillness. No one said anything and I had to be the one to ask the question, although I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘dead’. “She’s not alive is she?” My midwife was so stern in how she spoke to the ultrasound tech “You have to tell her what you see”.
“There’s no heartbeat”.
I can’t really explain the emotions I felt, or if there were tears, more shock I think. The thoughts of ‘This can’t be happening. She was fine yesterday. How did this happen?’
The midwife asked if I had anyone with me and called Matt off of my phone. He came running in and all I could say was “I’m sorry”. He knew without me having to say anything.
The next few hours were a blur of people coming in and out, doctors giving options, being told we could go home and come back when labour started.
In the end we tried for an induction so I could still have a VBAC, but I didn’t progress so we opted for a scheduled c section the next day.
Iris came into the world, silently at 11.54am on Tuesday February 15th. We spent the next 5 days with her, having our family and friends meet her. The most precious thing was having Nora come in and immediately know her sister was there. I remember Matt bringing her in and even though she hadn’t seen me in 2 days, when Matt went to sit her on the bed so I could give her a hug, she wanted to go straight to Iris.
We’ve spent the last 8 months mourning our daughter and having no answers to why she died. There have been many long, hard conversations about what we were going to do next, would we try for another baby or was it too much? Could we handle having another daughter, or would it feel like we were trying to replace Iris?
We were able to answer a few of those questions and we now find ourselves pregnant with our third child. It’s been a struggle, but we take each day as it comes and don’t take anything for granted.
Photos taken by Natalie Hughes.
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