Elsie was born sleeping at 23 weeks. I was told the reason for her being born early was because I have “an incompetent cervix.” And that’s exactly how I felt “incompetent.” My body couldnt even keep my own child safe. Elsie was growing perfectly she had beautiful blonde hairs and even though she weighed just over a pound she was fully formed.
Incompetent cervix means that your cervix has started to efface and dilate too soon. This can cause you to give birth too early, typically between 16 and 24 weeks.
Where did that diagnosis leave me? Feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt that she was growing perfectly but it was my body that had let her down, my body that had pushed her out when she wasn’t ready, my body was the reason she wasn’t here and it was the reason I was watching Karl, my partner and best friend fall apart.
I became pregnant with Elsie in May 2015, my pregnancy was straight forward except for hypermeresis gravidrum an extreme form of sickness. At 23 weeks and 4 days on the 29th October 2015 I had just had dinner and settled down to watch tv. I started having period like cramps, within an hour I was on my hands and knees in agony. We rang the maternity ward and they said to come straight down. I managed to get into the back of karls car to lay down and that’s when I knew she was on her way as i felt the over whelming urge to push. I knew it was 3 days too soon to try and save her, I knew that was it.
We were seen straight away at the maternity assessment ward, at first the consultant told us I wasnt in labour, Karl and I looked at each in complete relief. Seconds later she examined me for the second time and she said the words which replay in my mind ever since ” I’m so sorry shes on her way, and she’s 3 days too soon for us to try and save her, we will let the delivery bereavement suite know we are coming.” I couldn’t believe I was being told I had to give birth to my daughter who I could still feel moving and kicking safe inside me, but I knew she would die during labour or soon after.
Elsies labour was 27 hours from that point so i had alot of time to think of the outcome, and guilt was a strong factor throughout. When the time came to push, how could i? How could i push my daughter out knowing when i did it would mean she would take her last breath and my world would end?
The guilt when Elsie was born went through every part of my body. I pushed and screamed and screamed for someone to take her away as I felt I didn’t deserve to hold her, I didnt deserve to be called her Mummy, I couldn’t bare to look at her knowing she would never grow up because of me. I felt like it was all was my fault. After a while I decided it was time to see her, and at that minute I knew i would go through the last 27 hours of torture to see her again. My beautiful little girl, dressed in a lilac knitted dress, a colour that would always remain as hers. For two days we got to hold her, read to her, tell her all about her family and our friends and that we loved her very much.
I struggled for a long time blaming myself, I researched incompetent cervix again and again trying to find something that could have pre warned me or find something that meant I could blame this on. I had so much anger inside.
Planning a funeral brought more feelings of guilt. Planning a funeral for my little girl was something I never imagined I would ever have to do. All the little worries you’ve ever had in your life seem so irrelevant when your handed over the ” children and baby coffin guide” when just the week before you were picking out your push chair. The day we went to the funeral home to say our final goodbyes was the the day when I cried like I have never cried before, a sound I didn’t even know your body could produce, a sound that actually scared me. It’s as if your entire body and soul have been utterly broken, shattered and you can’t see any way that this heartbreak can ever feel better. Your completly stripped of everything you once were and everything you have ever known. Your facing a reality that is most peoples worse nightmare. I remember begging for someone to take me with her, what was life now if I didnt have her with me? For the weeks and months after life became so hard. Both myself and Karl couldn’t listen to the radio in the car, couldn’t watch TV, how can life go on when this has happened? How can I listen to happy music? We had to sleep with a lamp on as the darkness reminded us that out little girl was buried in complete darkness. Was she scared? Every feeling and thought we had was so raw and hurt like hell.
After a while we attended counselling together at a centre which specialises in parents losing babies/children at any gestation or age. We worked through how we both felt and slowly I began to realise this wasnt my fault, it was my body but I couldn’t have ever predicated this would happen and I couldn’t have done anything to stop it. It all happened so fast.
We now have Elsies brother with us, who to us is a miracle from his sister. The feelings of guilt have slowly come back this year whilst I’ve watched Finley grow up, watching all the things he can do that Elsie never can. Watching Finley watch other siblings play together at the park, knowing he has no idea his sister should be there beside him holding his hand.
We try and think that Elsies purpose of life was to bring her little brother safely into the world, we speak about her because we love her just as much as we love Finley.
With Finley I had a cervical stitch placed at 15 weeks and removed at 36 weeks. It wasn’t straight forward at all, my anxiety and panic attacks were pretty much constant all throughout my pregnancy and even now some days when hes poorly I really believe he will be taken from me but this is something I have recently started working on with counselling again.
For anyone who’s going through a diagnoses of incompetent cervix I would say keep going, its not your fault, there’s help out there and in future pregnancies keep pushing to be seen by a premature consultant as without ours I dont know if I ever could have gone through pregnancy again! Make your voice heard as to what you want.
Finley has healed our hearts in so many ways and taken away so many very dark days, but Elsie left a hole that will never ever be filled, her absence is felt in everything we do and I will never stop wishing that my babies were here together doing all the things a brother and sister should do. xx