The 1st April 2023 marked the 45th anniversary of the horrendous day I was put into hospital at 32 weeks pregnant.
I was with a normal GP who a few days earlier had put me in the hands of an obstetrician. He demanded I go to hospital the next day.
I had pre eclampsia and in those days there were no scans. After a couple of days resting in hospital the obstetrician told me my baby will be small and they were thinking of inducing me on the 3rd. He assured me it will be ok but small.
OMG - no one ever explained to me this is serious. I was naïve, turning 21 in May - many times my birthday is on Mother’s Day. No internet, only books to look up if you had themThe next day the nurse comes in with a cone shape tool. She puts it on my stomach. I’m very ticklish so I found it hard to stay still. At no stage did I ever think there was a problem. My baby’s room was ready, all clothes washed and neatly put away.
I looked up and saw the nurse’s face and wasn’t game to move. She went and got a machine they ran over my tummy to hear the heartbeat. I was starting to feel bit panicky.
The nurse said she would be back with the doctor. He came and tried but there was only silence. I asked him if the baby was dead. A word I never used as my Dad died at the age of 29 when I was 5 and my sister 3. Dead was a word not to be spoken. He said I can’t answer that, you legally have to wait 3 days.
My day was turning into a nightmare, is this an April Fool’s Day joke? Please wake me up.
After the obstetrician left the nurse snuck back in, sat on my bed and said, yes I’m so sorry but you have to face it and yes your baby has died. She drew me pictures of how the placenta would have dried up.
She was a beautiful nurse, she closed the blind and walked out. I cried and cried. This was at 10am.
No one came near me until my mother came at 2pm. I now feel sorry for her as she walked into a dark room full of gloom. We never had the phone on nor did we have mobile phones in those days. My hubby came around 5 as he was working and no one contacted him.
I begged the doctor to take the baby but he said it was out of the question. The next couple of days were a blur, having excited visitors coming to see me and having to break the horrible news.
When I did go into labour a senior nurse told me it would get a lot worse and I would have to get used to it. I was so frightened - I was stuck in hospital and had my dead baby stuck inside me.
Having my baby was the scariest thing. They took me up to the labour ward around 10 and I had my baby around 11.30. My husband saw them putting him into a blue plastic bag. The silence was deafening. I kept waiting to hear my baby’s cry.
They told us we had had a little girl. I was taken back to the ward (the whole time I was in midwifery and could hear all the other babies crying). I was exhausted mentally and physically. Many hours later I was woken by nurse saying “I’m so sorry, it was a boy you had. I’m sorry we didn’t check properly.” As if I didn’t have enough to deal with.
So once again I was left on my own. Deafening silence again, then I could hear babes from other rooms crying.
My husband came in at 10am next day so I had to break the news I had had a boy not a girl. In those days it was frowned upon to see your baby and we were more than strongly advised not to have a funeral.
I was discharged from hospital - see you. That was that. My heart was broken.
A few weeks later I had my 21st and Mother’s Day. They are still a blur.
At my 6-week check-up the office lady forgot to mark my name off so I waited over 2 hours to see my obstetrician - seeing all the mums with their babies coming in and out. When I finally got to see the doctor he said my baby was 19” long and the size of a 500g tub of butter. I will never forget those words. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I couldn’t go down the aisle where butter was.
He also told me it could happen to my 1st and 3rd child. We had a beautiful daughter a year and half later and I lost my 3rd baby at just over 3 months pregnant. I knew he was dead for 3 days before he was born. They wouldn’t tell me what sex it was, but I know in my heart it was a boy. And, yes, back in midwifery with other babies.
It took me 10 years to have the guts to find out where our 1st baby boy who we named Geoffrey Craig was buried. One day I went to my Dad’s grave and left Geoffrey a flower at the gate and believe it or not, he is buried in a common grave near that gate.
Some 20 years later laws had changed and you could get your records etc. I asked to get Geoffrey’s birth and autopsy records.
Shock horror, he was 3lb 6oz not the size of a 500g tub of butter as I was told all those years ago. All those TV shows I had watched of babies 500g and surviving, asking in my head why my baby didn’t make it. I had the guilt of my body killing my unborn baby let alone the lies of my obstetrician.
On Geoffrey’s 21st birthday I put a memorial in the paper for him. I woke crying after I had a nightmare that it wasn’t in the paper, only a photo of a rattle, truck and ball. When I went and bought the paper much to my horror it wasn’t in. I phoned the local paper, but they couldn’t explain.
On my 42nd Birthday I planned a party as my double 21st. I ended up in hospital with a ruptured appendix and the only bed available was in midwifery. Maybe it was Geoffrey’s way of saying I’m around.
I am now 65 and have 2 most caring, loving daughters and I am a grandmother.
I just wish with all my heart and soul I got to see him or had a photo of him or hair or a hand print, just something.
This year marks the 45th anniversary and on 3rd April was his birth anniversary. Those 2 days never stop hurting. But I am lucky I am surrounded by caring love.
Geoffrey Craig Considine you were loved and forever missed.