As a midwife, I knew that birth and death walked alongside each other. Having seen first hand the babies that entered the world with a silence, still nothing could prepare me to say goodbye to my own babies.
I had to give birth to two babies, knowing that there would be no chance for them to live. That they would be so premature that no amount of medical intervention could save them. I was giving birth to death.
This is the story of my sons, Cecil & Wilfred.
My husband and I met 11 years ago at university. Two years ago we started trying to expand our family with little success. In December of last year, we found out that the only day 5 embryo we collected from our first round of IVF had implanted, and by some miracle I was pregnant with identical twins.
I did not enjoy being pregnant. I found the physical symptoms debilitating, and the anxiety overwhelming. I worried constantly from the second I got pregnant. Twelve weeks passed, and I was worried. Sixteen weeks passed, and I worried. Twenty weeks passed, and I started to relax slightly, although could never quite shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong. I was over half way through the pregnancy, so pushed these thoughts to the back of my mind. Perhaps I was going to bring these babies home after all.
Despite niggling thoughts about nearly everything, one of the things that never crossed my mind was going into spontaneous labour at twenty one weeks. Preterm labour was of course on my radar, as I was having identical twins, but it never occurred to me that I might not make it to viability. That their cause of death, would be birth.
On Saturday 6th April, when my waters broke with a big gush, I knew it was the beginning of the end. That in fact, the pains that had been coming and going over the past two hours were contractions. That my babies were on their way.
It is very difficult to articulate how the death of your babies really does completely invert your life. There will forever be the time before, and the time after.
Not only did I lose two very precious babies, but I also lost a life time of memories. I am not invited to share my experiences of birth or motherhood with friends, because no one asks. I am not asked whether I had boys or girls, whether they looked like me or James, how much they weighed, or any other questions that most parents take pride in answering. I will never hear my sons call me Mummy, or see them playing together. James will never take them to play rugby, or tuck them into bed.
It has been six months since I last held my sons in my arms, I am still trying to navigate a world where I have given birth to two babies, but am not accepted into the motherhood club.
Not a moment goes past where I don’t think about my sons. I hope that by speaking about them, I am helping to honour their memory, but also to break down any misconceptions that baby loss is something to be ashamed of. I refuse to accept that only living babies matter.
My sons were born into silence, so I am making noise on their behalf.