Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Risk Factors

So, we are into the stage now, where if anything were to go wrong, Alexander's death would be recorded and registered as a stillbirth. 

I know you're all thinking; always with the negativity. Focused on the doom and gloom.   I promise I'm not like this 100% of the time. Of course it is there and anxiety gets the better of me, but I do often talk of my son with excitement too. I'm beginning to enjoy shopping for him, I'm beginning to plan his nursery, I'm beginning to dare to imagine showing him off. I want to do all of these things. But the fear of another baby being born asleep is huge. 

I'm always pleased when I see newspapers and the media reporting and highlighting the issues surrounding stillbirth. Each piece doing their bit to break the silence and raise awareness. Last week the Daily Mail Femail magazine did an article introducing 17 mothers and their bumps, highlighting that none of those babies were ever taken home, representing the 17 babies every single day that do not go home.  I think it made for really impacting reading.   

But something that always bothers me in the reporting of stillbirth is the focusing on the risk factors.   

Yes of course there are things that if the pregnant mother chooses to do she is going to increase the risk of her baby being damaged or dead. There are unfortunately always going to be groups at higher risk. But I often wonder if by turning the focus in reports to at risk groups, the reader remains ignorant to the fact that many babies die to women where there was deemed no risk at all. There is not always an apparent risk, stillbirth could literally happen to anyone.

It happened to us. I didn't fit in anywhere. 

Anabelle was a single pregnancy, I wasn't an older mother, I'm nowhere near 35 let alone over it, I'm not the other extreme either, not a teenager, I don't have a specific medical condition that should've or could've affected Anabelle's safety, Anabelle was my first pregnancy therefore I had no history of obstetric complications, I've never smoked, I'm not obese or overweight, I don't live in social deprivation and I'm not an ethnic minority group. 

I was supposed to be low risk. I don't fit into that list.

Yet not only was I supposed to be low risk, there was no obvious cause either. Anabelle's death will forever remain unexplained.  No placental or cord problems, she was not growth restricted. My perfect baby died in utero and I'll never have a reason. 

We are 1 in 4 families who's baby is stillborn where no reason can be attained for their death. So if I look at the figures I explored in my UK verses Finland  post; where in 2009 there were 3,688 stillbirths reported, (and a further 1,715 babies died in their first seven days) it is shocking to say that 922 of those babies died and were stillborn for 'no reason'.   Of course more research is required, no-one dies for no reason at all. 

After all, I keep saying it, but our stillbirth and neonatal death rate equates to 16 jumbo jets crashing every year with no survivors. And just how long would we as a society tolerate that without demanding an improvement in safety to bring the death toll down?  Exactly, we wouldn't tolerate it. Yet we are seemingly happy to ignore the number of deaths because of stillbirth. 

I really hope the Sands and Grazia Campaign, with help from other media who are willing to raise the stillbirth profile, will prompt the government to finally place this high on their health agenda like they did with cot death twenty years ago. One suggestion from Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp (a former nurse who now works within the field of clinical negligence) is to hold inquests into the deaths of stillborn babies. Although I believe inquests would be hugely distressing in the aftermath of a babies death, maybe they would, as Rosamund  suggests, enforce changes that would save lives. This already happens in Australia, Holland and Norway and their stillbirth rates are on the way down. 

I'm horrified that the Daily Mail article reports that in Britain inquests do not happen currently because a stillborn baby is not considered a life in the first place and therefore there is no death to be investigated.  

What an appalling failing and contradiction in our law. If a baby is considered life enough from 24 weeks to be registered as a legal person with a certificate; as I celebrated about Alexander yesterday, then surely he should be considered life enough for all care and circumstances surrounding his pregnancy to be investigated if the worst was to happen?  

Not only am I horrified, to me this failing in our law just confirms the attitudes of old; the brushing it under the carpet, our babies never existed, the getting on with it, not a real death to grieve anyway attitudes.  The law needs to change and be consistent. How are people supposed to understand the all-consuming and forever grief of our dead children if a part of the law does not even acknowledge it? 

So Alexander is now in the stillbirth territory of gestation. Of course I ask God every day not to let it happen again. 

My consultant and midwives have promised me that despite my past obstetric history this time, in the absense of a reason for Anabelle's death there is absolutely no reason to think there is a risk of me losing another baby to stillbirth. 

Alexander is supposedly as safe as his sister was thought to be.

It would've been worse to find a reason, I'm told, because with regard to a subsequent pregnancy there would always something there to try and prevent, or at least look out for. For us, and Alexander there is nothing to prevent, and this apparently makes us safer. 

You'll understand why my anxiety levels are up, I'm already beginning to verge on neurotic and there is such a long way to go. There is nothing anyone can do to make sure my little boy comes home, apart from monitor us closely and act if they feel there is a need too. 

13 weeks to go little man.


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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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