Why her? What had we done to deserve this as a family? What had gone wrong?
On 2nd January 2016, my sister Rebecca gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ava.
Becky has been extremely brave speaking out about what happened – how she was let down by the NHS, midwives and the hospital. I truly admire her for sharing her story to ensure that others won't go through the same. I now want to share how I feel from an aunty's point of view, especially now that I have a 10 month old baby myself.
My mind often wanders back to the moment my mum told me the news; every time it does, I feel sick to my stomach. It was New Year's Day and I was at my in-laws. Mum phoned and she asked if I was sat down. Ava (she was a surprise as Becky & David didn't want to know the sex) was due on Christmas Day, so I was expecting the news that my niece/nephew had arrived.
Instead, I got the worse news I could possibly imagine. I fell to the floor screaming, crying, swearing, and all of a sudden found myself in a nightmare. There was no heartbeat, Becky had lost the baby. My world came to a standstill and I can remember the most empty feeling in the world. I didn't want to believe it. They must have got it wrong? There was a heartbeat the day before and now, none? My brain could just not take in what was being said. I didn't sleep a wink that night, waiting for updates, hoping that somehow they had got it wrong. Sadly, that news didn't arrive.
The next day was a blur. I went to see Becky in hospital and watching her in labour knowing that at the end of all the contractions, pain and hardwork we would be meeting either a niece or nephew asleep was heartbreaking. What should have been the happiest moment ever turned into one of the most heartbreaking moments. I just wanted it to be over, for her to not be in physical pain anymore. The mental pain would be hard enough. At just after 11pm that night, I got the call from mum to say my little niece had arrived. She was perfect. 10 fingers, 10 toes, dark hair and soft chubby cheeks. After hours of labour, which ended as an emergency C-section, she was here... born sleeping.
I went to see Becky and got to meet Ava. I held her and told her how much I loved her. I didn't want to let go – I just wanted her to wake up, and for it all to be a big mix up and that she was fine. My sister had just become a mummy for the first time at 42. She had waited all her life, and finally married a man who made her happy and wanted to have a family with her. She lost a baby the year before as a miscarriage, and then fell pregnant again. We were all over the moon! That was all ripped away from us. It was surreal – I don't think I was still really taking in what was happening. I was at the hospital visiting my sister and niece in the saddest circumstances.
I don't think I've felt emptiness like it. I felt useless. I couldn't do anything to help, make anyone feel better or put the situation right. I went to work the next day and just didn't do anything. My brain couldn't function. How had this happened? Becky has had so much shit in her life and she deserved some happiness. Why her? What had we done to deserve this as a family? What had gone wrong? I can remember people just not knowing what to say to me. What do you say to someone who has suffered such a loss in their family? If I felt like this, God knows how becky and David felt on a daily basis.
The post mortem revealed that Ava was perfect. She was a healthy baby girl. The reason it happened was medical neglect and the hospital held their hands up and admitted it. I felt sick. This could have been prevented and Ava should be here. The case has been closed and I'm not going to say much about it. Nothing will bring Ava back.
Women who are going to be older mums should not be allowed to go over due – the baby should be delivered early. Please, anyone who reads this, make sure you are given the correct care. My sister should have been under a consultant, which she wasn't. Make sure you get the best care for you and your baby, and if you're older, ensure the baby comes early.
I miss Ava every day. Things remind me of her all the time, like pink balloons, rainbows, snowdrops, or just seeing baby girls makes me think of her. How she should be here, growing up, developing a personality and causing mischief. My ringtone is somewhere over the rainbow, which was played at Ava's funeral. I can't change it.
Telling my sister I was pregnant last year was the hardest thing I've ever done. I could hardly eat my tea at my mum and dads. I'd always wanted a family, but wanted my sister to have a baby before me. We decided it was time for us and knew that Becky and David would be happy for us, but it would be really tough. Isaac Richard was born on 16th April 2017 and he is the luckiest boy. He has an amazing family who are besotted with him, especially his auntie and uncle. I just wish that his cousin Ava was here so they could grow up together.
My pregnancy was scary – I was so nervous, especially as Becky had been let down by so many people. I was really nervous about Becky and David meeting Isaac, but as soon as they walked through the hospital door and saw him, my worries went away. There were many tears of joy mixed with sadness that they too should have had the joy of welcoming a new baby into the world. He was cuddled and loved and he still is every time they see him.
I know they will both read this and I want to say how proud I am of them both. To have the strength to get up every day, face new challenges, and smile when they don't feel like smiling. I wish I could change what happened and give them both the happiness they well and truly deserve. They would make the most amazing parents and I am devastated that Ava was taken away from them.
She comes to say hello to us all now and again and I think she's up there with her Uncle Richard, looking down on us and watching over Isaac, giving us the strength to carry on. I think he's a little gift to light up the dark days.
Whatever the future holds for my sister and brother in-law, I hope they know just how much they are loved and how incredible I think they both are. I know I can't do anything to put right what happened, but I think they know how much they mean to me.
Fly high little one, we will NEVER forget you and hope that you are looking down on us.
I want hours upon hours of delicious sleep followed by hot cups of tea, reading my book and nothingness. But I'll have to get up now to comfort, feed, clean, dress, entertain, love, laugh, play, and repeat.
I am so sorry. This was my biggest fear as an older first-time Mum and sometimes I still have nightmares about it.
I was delivered a little over a week early via C-section for this reason. I could have lost him just like this; his sugars were low and he had fluid on his lungs and couldn't regulate his temperature. Had I not been under care I could have lost him, and my heart breaks for Becky because I know the pain of wanting a child so much. I can't imagine having them ripped away at the last hour like that.