Poppy’s Stillbirth Story

I’ve lost 9 babies, including a set of triplets

Stillbirth Story Told by Samantha Dean
I’ve lost 9 babies, including a set of triplets. My first was new years eve 2008 to my violent ex. I was only 8 weeks pregnant. I lost baby in a bed pan and rushed back to the cubicle to show my partner… I dunno what was going through my mind, but I said look I think it’s our baby.

The nurse whisked the pot away before I had a chance to say anything else and when I asked about it, she said that it will be disposed of. I was horrified, I had no idea that was what happened. I felt so empty and like one minute I’m pregnant and suddenly I’m just not pregnant anymore, and that’s it? Go home and carry on as though nothing had happened? It felt so wrong but I thought my feelings must be an overreaction as it was like “order of the day” to everyone else, life just carried on.stillbirth story empty crib

Then in 2011, I was pregnant and I got really ill, I struggled to walk, breathe, I felt dizzy all the time and so sick and always sleepy. I was raising money for charity after the London riots and I arranged a comedy event and raffle in London at Camden Locks. It’s a couple of hours’ drive away. Everything kept going wrong, I was so stressed. I got more and more sick and everyone kept telling me to slow down but I figured it’s just two weeks, I can rest after that.

Just half an hour away from home I hit a wall. I couldn’t even see the road anymore so I pulled into a hotel on the road side and checked in for a few hours. I vomited and slept, finally waking, having lots of water and some food and finished the journey home.
When I got back I couldn’t physically do anything. I went to bed and just slept for three days, I didn’t eat, didn’t drink, I just slept, I was so tired.

My partner finally decided to cook me some food and whilst he was cooking, my waters broke. I was less than 20 weeks’ pregnant and I knew right then that was it, I was going to lose my baby. My little Pop-Eli (Poppy for a girl and Elijah for a boy), the nickname a friend had called our little bump.

I phoned my doula and she rushed to pick me up and take me into hospital. I got to the labour ward and I’m sat in this day room with pregnant women in labour bouncing on yoga balls, panting and breathing.

Everything was so surreal and closing in on me, I felt so small

Eventually I was called into the triage room and they took swabs and confirmed it was amniotic fluid (which I already knew anyway). I asked the midwife if anybody has that happen and baby still survives, she told me in some cases the plug has resealed and baby has been fine so I start relaxing, thinking it’s all going to be ok. Then the porter comes and the midwife tells him he’s taking me to the snowdrop room, and I know what that room is… My friend lost her son and gave birth there the February before, and now they are taking ME there!!!!

It felt like I was on death row and this was the green mile, and nobody has even told me anything yet, the porter is silent, there’s no small talk, just silence and all I can hear is my heart beating, like it’s going to come right out my chest. Anyway, I get told that normally after your waters break, you go into labour within 24 hours, but that because I’m diabetic they want me to end the pregnancy straight away. They tell me that I’m high risk of infection and high risk that any infection could be fatal for me. I refuse. I can’t do that, my baby is kicking inside me, it’s healthy, I can’t kill my baby, and the midwife told me sometimes the plug reseals so maybe my baby will be the one that beats the odds.

this stillbirth story is Samantha and Poppy’s but so many of us are connected through it

So it’s a waiting game right? Except, then they take me to maternity ward and I’m in a room with a heavily pregnant midwife and a lady with a newborn, not sure what to name her beautiful little girl. I didn’t want to be a downer or scare anyone so I pretend everything is fine. I told her I loved the name Florence and she said she really liked that too and that was her mind made up. The next day they moved me to a private room, and I had my 20 week scan. It was just like any other scan, there was no talk like anything was wrong, she’s measuring the head, length etc. Then the fluid – she’s been telling me she thinks it’s a little girl and her organs are all perfect, she’s the right size, everything is perfect, except I only have 20ml fluid and she needs at least 50ml for her lungs to develop.

I see the obstetrician who tells me the same and again she’s trying to get me to end the pregnancy, telling me how with only 20ml fluid my baby has no chance of survival and I’m risking my life. I go back to my room and now everybody that comes in the room is begging me to reconsider, reminding me how I’m risking my life and I have other children who need me. Then the breastfeeding support woman comes to offer me help breastfeeding my baby. Then the bounty photography lady comes you take a photo of my baby. Two days it’s a constant barrage of doctors and midwives trying to persuade me to end the pregnancy.

I just want my mum but I had a restraining order on her and I’m thinking, I’m being emotional and I shouldn’t make a rash decision in the moment that I might regret later so I decide not to contact her. My dad is in France with one of my children, I called my uncle to see if he could get hold of my dad and he tells me that I’m not ruining my dad’s holiday and we all have to do things we don’t like but we just have to get on with it. I have nobody to talk to, no visitors, my partner is calling me a cunt and other names and I’m scared he’s not looking after the children properly. I’m so scared and alone.

The doctor explains everything and then suggests when I’m ready to take the pill

So, I’ve been in from the Thursday and it gets to Monday and I have another scan, and there’s no fluid left, nothing, so I finally tell the doctors that I’ll do what they want and end the pregnancy. I get taken to a room on maternity day unit, where all these heavy pregnant women are, and into an office. There’s a canvas on the wall of a palm tree and two leather sofas and a coffee table. And on the table is a cup of water and a pill. The doctor explains everything and then suggests when I’m ready to take the pill and I pick it up and I’m staring at this most innocent looking little white pill that could be anything…And I have this huge lump in my throat and I’m thinking how can I just put this in my mouth and swallow like… this is the end of the world, right here, in this room. This is it. And I put it in my mouth and take the water and I’m thinking, something dramatic should happen, like maybe I choke on it and die, or maybe I’ll pass out before I can even try to swallow it. Surely it has to be hard than this? But I don’t, it goes down with no major event happening.

Birth Story

LED lotus flower candleI’m taken back to the snowdrop room, and I wait. On the Tuesday evening they induce me and my doula came back with a hypnobirthing therapist. I told my partner I want no visitors, I didn’t want him there, not in this moment after how he treated me. And it’s the most beautiful moment in my life, yet the saddest, most scary moment that I kept wishing I could go back and change. Everything is perfect and nightmarish all at the same time. The room is dimly lit by LED lotus flower candles, and we’re playing goddess music. We’ve got crystals and aromatherapy and they made me a toga from a sheet so I could walk the corridors and move freely. And I get on the bed when I want, I get on the yoga ball and my hypnobirthing therapist gently sweeps my legs and rocks me back and forth, and helps me breathe though each contraction.

And then the urge to push comes and it all goes to hell and I’m on the bed on my knees and screaming no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no over and over again, and they can see her head and shouting for me to push and I just refuse and shut down, I hold on, and I’m not letting her go, I can’t, I’m not ready.Poppy-stillbirth-sunrise

I held her inside, fighting the urge to push for an hour before my body did it’s own thing and she entered the world at sunrise, Wednesday 14th September 2011. And I heard a faint cry but it was another lady who gave birth at the same moment, because my little girl never took a breath, she never made a sound, and never got to feel the comfort of my arms holding her close to my breasts. I held her to the window to show her the sunrise and I read a wiccan blessing. I told her I would follow her on her journey into death as far as I could. And I stayed in that room with her for two days, holding her. Friends and family came to visit, my dad returned from France and I saw him cry for the first time in my life and I thought he was having a heart attack. He had an eye disorder where he always had tears since he was a boy, and he always carried a handkerchief to wipe his tears, and he gave her his tears.

And I still miss her so much every day, my little baby girl Poppy-Rose Serena Dean (Pop-Eli). Then I got with my husband and we lost 7 more before having my rainbow who’s nine months now. Yeah so that’s my stillbirth story.
Samantha Dean

stillbirth charm
*trigger warning – baby loss* this charm contains elements from a stillborn baby, Poppy-Rose Serena Dean (Pop-Eli). One of our pro bono pieces

Editor’s note:  Thank you so so much for letting me share this story with our readers Samantha.  It really blew my mind to meet you and you’ve inspired me to train to be a loss doula when things are a little more settled.  Your story is so raw and beautiful and the way you tell it as if we are there with you makes me feel like I could see and hear Poppy-Rose’s birth myself.  Thank you for letting me look after her birth blanket and make you this charm for her and for some of your other children, and I hope we stay in touch for a long long time.  All my love, Nicola Kamminga x

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