"We made the heartbreaking decision not to continue this desperately wanted pregnancy... a decision no parent dreams they will ever have to make."
It has been such a deeply traumatic and private time for us. But I have decided to be open about what we are going through to raise awareness about a type of baby loss that is very silent.
On 15.11.2020 at 14:58 we met and said goodbye to our tiny baby girl. ❤️ Rosina Williams (named after my Swiss grandmother who passed away a few weeks earlier) was delivered at 16wks +4days and measured just 17cm. She had the most beautiful little fingers and toes I have ever seen and her delicate skin had an iridescent glow I will never forget.
Some close friends know that I had also gone through a missed miscarriage in May during the first lockdown, but didn’t feel able at the time to share this loss more widely. I felt very isolated and lost a lot of faith in my body. We struggled silently and then were over the moon to find out I was pregnant again just a few months later. As anyone who has experienced any type of pregnancy loss will understand, pregnancy after loss isn’t quite filled with the same blissful excitement. I was of course grateful to fall pregnant again, but completely petrified all at the same time and I can say from experience that getting through those early weeks took more mental strength than completing an Ironman!
We made it past the first trimester and were about to share our good news, when we received a phone call to say that our combined prenatal screening results put our baby at a 1/10 high risk of having a chromosomal abnormality. Never in my life have I felt gripped by sheer panic like I did hearing those words. The next week was a blur while we waited (in isolation with Covid!) for the more conclusive results from our NIPT blood test. These and then an Amniocentesis confirmed that our baby did indeed have Trisomy 21 (Downs Syndrome).
After doing a lot of research and receiving the most amazing support from our incredibly kind consultant and the brilliant charity @arcantenatal, we made the heartbreaking decision not to continue this desperately wanted pregnancy... a decision no parent dreams they will ever have to make. Whilst we own our decision, I don’t think we will ever feel 100% about it and that is something we are still working out how to live with. I remember searching frantically online, feeling completely alone, wondering why I had not heard more stories like ours? And then reality hit, that TFMR (termination for medical reasons) is a part of pregnancy loss that people don’t want to talk about, and I get why. It’s ethically complicated. It’s mixed up with an element of choice that moves everything to a very uncomfortable place. Yes it was a choice, but choice feels like such an unfair word in this situation; it certainly didn’t feel like that. A few days later we went into hospital for me to be induced. Everything went pretty smoothly with the labour and I will be forever grateful that my very special friend and amazing midwife Isabelle was there to care for us and deliver our baby. Thanks to Isabelle we felt completely at ease and I was able to find a calmness I hadn’t imagined would be possible. She took photographs for us and made hand and footprints that we will cherish forever. Our little girl stayed with us overnight in hospital which was a truly beautiful time. The way Gwyn held baby Rosina and kissed her tiny forehead with the most tender gentleness has left an imprint on my heart that will never fade. I felt more at peace than I had in a very long time spending some precious moments the three of us. We read her a story and had sewn a little teddybear for her just like the one my mum made me when I was born, which we lay by her side.
Our time in the hospital was tough, but all the physical stuff felt, on balance, like a positive thing after the heart break of the diagnosis and terrible decisions we had to make. Whilst of course we wish deeply for a different outcome, baby Rosina Williams has changed our lives forever in a way we will always hold close to our hearts and would never wish to change back.
You have made us a family and brought Gwyn and I closer than I could ever have imagined. You have taught me empathy and made me see the world through clearer eyes with a new sense of perspective I promise not to lose sight of.
We have been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and support we have had from our close friends and family during this unimaginably difficult time. Our obstetrician Aris who has gone above and beyond for us at every step; our wonderful midwife Isabelle; all the staff at St George’s who have treated us with the utmost compassion both in the hospital and through the bereavement and psychological support services. And finally Jane, who answered the Arc helpline when we were completely desperate and has continued to support us to this day.
A beautiful friend gave me an invaluable piece of advice; a mantra that has kept me going through the hardest parts of this: ‘When you are going through hell, keep walking’. I’ve come to realise, it is only thanks to all the wonderful people around us that we have been able to stay upright and keep walking at all. I don’t know how we would have found any sort of a path through this hell without you all. We are beyond grateful.
Having spent half of 2020 pregnant, my body and mind both need a little rest for now, but this is not the end of our story and I hope with all my heart to be able to share better news at some point in the future.
I am as guilty as the next person of sharing only the glossy version of my life on social media, but we never know what’s really going on in other people’s lives.
My heart goes out to anyone experiencing any type of pregnancy or baby loss. Remember you are not alone and there is great support available. Don’t suffer in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, I wanted to share some words that Gwyn spoke at baby Rosina’s cremation this morning: Our baby Rosina existed. She was real. She was ours. And we will love her forever.
(Since this was written, a sibling for Rosina has been born and all are well)
I love this picture. I was pregnant with Rosina when it was taken, but it was early days and only we knew. I was casually cutting laps of the lake, taking it super easy, contemplating the little life growing inside me. I am so glad I shared something I love so much with her.