My husband, Josh, says it’s always a good day when we get to talk about Thea, our baby daughter, and he’s so right. Just like parents of a living baby, we love talking about her. That’s why when we recently found out about Red Nose/Sands Say Their Name Day we wanted to be a part of it. Every time someone reaches out and tells us they’re thinking of Thea or remembering her it actually lights us up. I think that’s a feeling that will resonate with all bereaved parents.
Thea was our first baby. Everything was going really well with my pregnancy. Until it wasn’t. It was just before Christmas in 2019 when I went for the 20-week scan. We were told then that the ventricles in her brain were larger than they should be, but at that stage they couldn’t tell us why. What came next was a rush of further scans, tests and appointments, their timing complicated by the holidays and the availability of specialists. It was a horrible time. We were worried sick.
The results came back but they didn’t show evidence of conditions or infections they thought could have caused the problem. We spoke to a lovely neonatologist who ran through all the different scenarios it could be and how they might play out, but all we could really do at that stage was wait and see what happens. We had another scan five weeks later where we found out the ventricles in Thea’s brain had gotten substantially bigger. This meant her brain couldn’t develop. My husband and I had to make the decision to induce labour, thereby terminating the pregnancy. I say it was a ‘decision’, but it wasn’t, really because there was no alternative that could reverse or improve Thea’s condition.
Thea was born the day before my birthday on 25 January 2020, at almost 26 weeks gestation. We’d had a lot of time to prepare but we didn’t know what to expect or what we wanted to happen when she was born. Then the midwife who delivered her lifted her gently into his arms and said to her ‘come on, munchkin’, just like he would to any newborn baby, and all of a sudden it seemed the most natural thing in the world to hold her. I’ll never forget his words and how they helped normalise what was happening and put us at ease. We were able to spend as long as we needed cuddling her and talking to her – even coming back the next day when I realised I needed to see her again.
The care shown to me by my midwives really made me feel acknowledged as Thea’s mother, as has the love and support we’ve been shown by family and friends. They haven’t been afraid to talk about Thea and the opportunities they’ve given me to do so, openly, have enabled me to express all the happiness and love I still have for her. Although she died, she was my baby. I still got to meet her, and I’m still so grateful she was here.
I want everyone to know that acknowledgement of their baby and recognition of their role as a parent is one of the most meaningful things you can do for a bereaved parent. So this Say Their Name Day, I hope you’ll reach out to someone you know who is grieving the loss of a baby or child to give that gift to them.
Say Their Name Day is on March 25 – a special day to remember all of the little lives we have loved and lost, and support bereaved families.