To leave a hospital without a baby is the cruellest thing. Dealing with it took over my life.

I am using the blog post this week to highlight the service of TimeNorfolk and to raise awareness so that hopefully other families will be able to benefit from this charity. If you are affected at all as you read this post, please scroll to the bottom for information on how to get in touch with TimeNorfolk. 

Three Norfolk women have spoken about their heartbreaking stories of pregnancy loss at an event for the charity TimeNorfolk as it opens a new centre in Great Yarmouth.

TimeNorfolk provides free and confidential support to anyone who has been through pregnancy loss and includes the whole family.

The charity currently has one centre on Catton Grove Road in Norwich but thanks to new funding, it has plans to open a centre in Great Yarmouth in April.

At a recent event to say thank you to volunteers and supporters, three very brave women spoke publicly about how pregnancy loss affected them and how they had been supported by TimeNorfolk.

Tara’s story

Tara from Great Yarmouth fell pregnant in January 2015. At 20 weeks, she found out she was having a girl and the pregnancy went smoothly.

In late October, Tara carried on with her normal routine including taking the dog for a walk, but she realised she hadn’t felt her baby move. Tara had a bath but still no movement. She then went directly to the hospital.

“The midwife put the monitor on my body and there was no heartbeat. I remember her face, it was white. She didn’t know what to say to me but I knew. She got the consultant who said ‘I’m sorry, you’ve lost your baby.’ I started to shout at my partner, ‘you need to do something.'”

Tara had to go back on her due date to be induced for labour. She named her little girl Darcy and was told there was no reason for her stillbirth.

“To leave a hospital without a baby is the cruellest thing. We didn’t get offered any help or counselling. Dealing with it took over my life.”

Tara heard about TimeNorfolk at a meeting with a group who had experienced loss in their lives.

It’s great to hear that TimeNorfolk will be in Great Yarmouth soon, there is such a need for it there.

Sarah’s story

In 2017, Sarah found out she was expecting her first child and her pregnancy was labelled low risk and even ‘perfect’. When her contractions started at 40 weeks and 5 days she called the midwife and was advised to stay at home during early labour. Just before the conversation ended, the midwife asked about the baby’s movements. Sarah wasn’t sure and so was asked to come to hospital to check.

Sarah and her husband were very excited about meeting their baby as they arrived. The midwife put a monitor onto her body but there was no sound. She was told not to worry.

“Next, the doctor came in and also said don’t worry. After a minute or so, she looked at me with the kindest, loveliest eyes and said “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat. My dreams were shattered, then I had to call my family around the world. They were expecting me to say whether it was a boy or girl, but I had to shatter their dreams too.”

The couple went home and when the labour progressed, they drove back to the hospital.

“We had a little girl and they asked me if I wanted skin to skin, I said No. When we were ready, the midwife gave Eliza Jane to her Daddy. He looked at her and fell head over heels for our little girl. I looked at her and so did I. We were in love with Eliza Jane, she didn’t have to scream or cry.”

The couple spent time with their baby. They had castings made of her hands and feet,
photographs with family and a naming ceremony with a chaplain.

We walked out of that hospital with a bag. We had to leave our baby there. How would we survive this? We were ready to bring her home.

At the hospital, they heard about TimeNorfolk and were put in touch with the charity. Just a week after Eliza’s death, Liam lost his mum too. Now they had to deal with two traumatic deaths in a short space of time.

“The sessions with our counsellor included Liam’s mum. The sessions taught us about the 5 stages of grief, they helped us so much at the start of pregnancy loss.

We will continue to share our story because we want others to know that you can survive stillbirth and even continue to have joy in your hearts.

Lauren’s story

Lauren’s experience with TimeNorfolk has led to a new job. Lauren has recently been appointed as the fundraising, marketing and communications officer at the charity. She also shared her personal story at the evening event.

When Lauren’s youngest daughter started school, she began to think about having another baby and when they felt ready, Lauren and her husband fell pregnant.
At 13 weeks pregnant and close to the 3 month scan, they planned how to tell their two girls about the new baby. That morning, Lauren experienced some pink staining and called the midwife for reassurance. The midwife arranged an early scan.

“I hoped I would be sending friends photos of the scan, the waiting was awful, I went into the room shaking.”

The scan showed no signs of a baby, there was a pregnancy sac, but no baby. Lauren had
suffered a mis-miscarriage, she had lost the baby very early on but her body had not yet realised.

I couldn’t get my head around it, I had names for that ‘nothing’, I loved that ‘nothing’.

Three weeks after her miscarriage, Lauren’s best friend told her she was pregnant and shortly after another friend revealed her pregnancy.

“I lost all sense of reason. My feelings overwhelmed me. I felt I needed help. I didn’t know about TimeNorfolk but googled for help and I found it. They called me back and I went to meet them. I was paired with Vicky. Vicky quickly identified that my happy mask was fragile and each week I was able to let go of all my anger in that room.

She took the pressure off me and helped me find positives in an awful situation. She taught me how to look after myself.

My family have the proper me back. Our lost baby has become part of our family. It’s made us more resilient against other obstacles.”

What support does TimeNorfolk provide?

TimeNorfolk started over 20 years ago but has recently experienced a huge increase in the need for its service.

Lesley Bradfield is the Director of the charity.

“In the last two to three years, our numbers of clients have grown by 65%. We are the only service in Norfolk that provides what we do and it’s free. Baby loss is not the taboo subject it was years ago.”

TimeNorfolk practitioners meet clients on a one to one basis or in small groups and offer help and support to the wider family as well.

“We support the young girl who doesn’t know what to do if she finds she is pregnant to the older woman who has had her family and then finds out she is pregnant. We support women who have had several losses and then find they are pregnant. Every day they think, am I going to lose this baby?

We’re passionate in Norfolk, we want a service that anyone can come to, whether a parent, grandparent or other family member, they can come.

Counselling is not the only service offered at TimeNorfolk, in October 2018, the charity ran a baby loss awareness day which was attended by 75 health professionals. Each year there is a Doorway of Hope service at Norwich Cathedral.

Other services include working with the student midwives at the University of East Anglia to give training and working with hospitals.

For more information

If you would like to find out more about the charity TimeNorfolk, please see the website
http://www.timenorfolk.org.uk or you can email info@timenorfolk.org.uk
The helpline for anyone who has suffered a pregnancy loss is 03333058552 or 01603 927487
Information about volunteering, training opportunities and donations can be found on the website.