Every day in the UK around 13 babies die either before, during or soon after the birth. While it is a tough issue, Dad Info is focussing on this difficult subject in a bid to create awareness and support readers who may have suffered loss.
Mike, a dad, has kindly shared his story with us.
Mike Pollard describes himself as a ‘father of five children- two of which are here with us on earth.’
After suffering a miscarriage in 2017, Mike’s wife found she was pregnant with identical twin boys. However, at 19 weeks she became ill one evening with a fever.
‘When we got her to hospital we found out that she was suffering from sepsis,’ says Mike. The sepsis had unfortunately brought on early labour. The twins -Harrison and Jake- were too young to survive.
‘We got to hold them in our arms and we got to say our goodbyes properly,’ says Mike. ‘I could have also lost my wife from the sepsis- I would have lost my whole world. We are each other’s rock.’
Despite suffering unimaginable loss, the couple still wanted a family. Having already lost 2 babies and suffered a miscarriage, the couple tried again and found themselves successfully passing the 19 week mark with their new pregnancy.
‘It just felt like this was a different pregnancy,’ remembers Mike. ‘We got to the day before the 24 week scan and my wife was starting to prepare for our wedding- she was in town and her waters broke. We went into hospital and there were discussions about what to do and how could we manage the situation. During a routine check we found that there was no heartbeat.’
Later that night the baby was induced and baby Zach was stillborn. The couple were provided with a room to be in with a cold cot until they were ready to leave the hospital.
‘The little things in life don’t matter anymore’
‘Its a total heartbreak,’ says Mike. ‘A blow to the stomach. It disorientates your world. You don’t know if you’re coming or going. The little things in life don’t matter anymore- it really puts things in perspective. It makes you consider others- their feelings and problems- more.’
Furthermore, like many dads, Mike felt he wasn’t considered as much as his wife by the hospital staff. ‘There was times when I was in the room where I wasn’t even acknowledged,’ he recalls. ‘That was really tough. A lot of the times it was female nurses that were just talking to my wife which felt odd. I just wasn’t part of the conversation.’
Recovery from the trauma is an ongoing process. Mike found he even lost friends because of his bereavements as some distanced themselves or didn’t know what to say.
He also found himself somewhat isolated with his own experience as the male in a bereaved couple. ‘I don’t think me and my wife followed the same grief trajectory,’ he says. ‘She got a lot of support but I went back to work. I had to suppress it to carry on and it came out at a later time.’
Finding support and becoming a father again
The couple weren’t aware of SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) until Mike read a leaflet in the cold cot room. He found that phonecalls to their helpline were helpful, and rang them on the day before Zack’s funeral.
‘I didn’t even say much, I just listened but it really helped,’ he says. ‘I’ve had to go through talking to people to get my mental health in check. I try to forget about the small worries in life and focus on the important things. The dream: the family- two children- nice house- life wasn’t necessarily that but without what happened I wouldn’t have the two children I’ve got now. These guys are a result of those experiences.’ Mike and his wife are now parents to two children- a son and a daughter.
His advice to others
‘The biggest thing to know is that you’re not the only person to go through this. I really thing that’s helped me- finding other people who have had the same experience,’ he says.
Mike got involved with his local SANDS group and found hope that he could still have a child from the other families there. ‘Hold on to hope as much as you can- don’t give up,’ he says.
If this issue has affected you or your family do consider contacting our qualified counsellor to find out more about how counselling can help.