After six months of trying, we fell pregnant with our second child in September 2017. Unfortunately our excitement was short-lived as I started bleeding the following week. Thinking the worst, I was seen in the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and to everyone’s surprise there was a tiny baby, with a strong heartbeat. Despite the reassurance from EPU,
I was still bleeding daily – but no one could tell me why.
The weeks next few weeks were spent in and out of hospital, lots of scans and investigations, yet still no source for the bleeding.
At 18 weeks pregnant, I had a larger bleed and was kept overnight in hospital. Eventually, I was scanned and told that I had a condition called Placenta Previa – finally a reason for the bleeding! I felt this huge relief, knowing it was something that could be managed and monitored. I was told it was likely the placenta would move as the baby got bigger – feeling much lighter, it was the first time in my pregnancy I felt I could relax a little.
Sadly, everything changed three weeks later. At 21 weeks, I was rushed to hospital following a huge bleed at home. It was at that moment, I knew I wasn’t leaving hospital with my baby. I was greeted by many doctors and midwives, all trying to stabilise me after the blood loss. The consultant entered, ready to do an ultrasound – the room went silent. Funnily enough, I knew my baby was okay even before the scan. ‘There’s a strong heartbeat!’ the consultant announced, it seemed she was as shocked as the rest of the room. But all I could think was, that doesn’t mean he’s coming home – surely a baby can’t survive this.
The following hours consisted of on and off bleeding, blood transfusions, IV fluids and attempting to sleep. At 7:45am, the bleeding started again – this time it couldn’t be stopped. I was taken to theatre and told I was having a C-section to get my baby out. I was 21+4 weeks, too far from viability for my little boy to have any intervention to try and save his life. These were the last moments, I had knowing my little boy was safe and alive.
Jonah George was born at 8:45am on 30th January 2018.
When I woke up in recovery I immediately asked what the time was, feeling as though I’d been asleep forever. Quite rightly, I had been in theatre a lot longer than a ‘normal c-section’ – in fact it had been over 6 hours. Moments later, the Dr entered –
‘I’m sorry but we had to remove your uterus to save your life’,
the words that still seems so surreal even now.
Unbeknown to anyone, I had actually had a condition called Placenta Percreta, the most severe form of Placenta Accreta. In my case, the placenta had grown through my uterine wall – via my previous C-Section scar from our eldest daughter and attached itself to my bladder. In order to stop the bleeding, my womb was taken out. I received 16 units of blood, 2 bags of plasma and 2 bags of platelets and somehow survived to tell the tale.
I spent a year in counselling and a specialist therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and felt I’d accepted what had happened. It never gets better, but it does get easier. I think like most families in the baby loss world, I longed for another child. Our family didn’t feel complete.
Adoption was always something we’d discussed as a family, so in January 2019 we attended an information evening with our local authority. Immediately we both felt at ease and knew this was the right decision for our family. The information evening, lead to us putting in an application and then being accepted onto stage one of the process. Stage one involves lots of references, medical checks and some training days but nothing too invasive.
A few months later, we received the call to say we’d completed the first stage and would be moving onto the assessment part of the process! Stage two is a really in depth assessment of you, your family, any trauma in your past and any significant life events. Our wonderful social worker visited once a week for several hours. It was tough going and emotionally draining at times, but knowing all of the assessments were leading up to approval panel, pushed us on when things were hard. There is no hiding from this assessment, you share everything – warts and all.
On 1st October 2019, my husband and I headed to approval panel. We sat in a huge board room with 14 panel members, each from different back grounds – social workers, Drs, adoptive parents, foster carers. We were asked a few questions on our experience of the process and how we planned to manage having a birth child and an adopted child together at home. Thankfully panel was short and sweet and it wasn’t long before the decision was made –
‘congratulations, you’re going to be a mummy again’ ,
a unanimous yes, we were approved adopters!
We were incredibly lucky that we didn’t have to wait too long, the social worker of a little girl we’d expressed interest in a few months early, wanted to meet us. Matching panel seemed so much scarier than approval, it felt like so much was riding on being approved, our daughter was waiting for us, we just needed everyone else to agree. Six weeks after being approved, we went to panel and got another unanimous yes – our family was going to be complete.
December 2019, we met our little girl for the first time at her foster carers. It was the most magical, scary and overwhelming experience that I will remember forever. We learnt all about her, got to know her likes/dislikes, assisted at meal times, changed nappies and became mummy and daddy for the third time. Our daughter met her little sister and they hit it off straight away – there is just over two years between our girls. A week later, our tiny little girl came home forever.
To say the first year as a family of 5 has been unusual, would be an understatement. No one could have predicted the craziness of 2020, but weirdly we’ve been so incredibly fortunate to have this time together to get to know our youngest. She’s built an incredible attachment to us all, which I’m certain would have taken much longer if we hadn’t been forced to stay home together. It’s been a long, stressful, terrifying journey, but so worth it. She was meant to be our daughter, we just needed to find each other.
Written by Katie