In an effort to break the taboo surrounding neonatal death a brave Draperstown woman has shared her heartache at losing a baby at birth, followed by two miscarriages.
Teresa Kidd’s first baby, Leonie Ellen Kidd, was eight days overdue when she went into labour at Antrim Area Hospital.
Although meant to be one of the happiest days of her life, three devastating words - “there’s no heartbeat” - left her with an empty feeling that “never leaves”.
Up to this point everything had been ‘normal’ with the 34-year-old’s pregnancy.
A postmortem examination later showed little Leonie had contracted GBS (Group B Strep), a bacteria that can be passed mother to baby during labour, but is not usually fatal.
Despite the pain she and her husband Martin felt at Leonie’s loss, the couple continued trying for a family, but tragedy struck a further two times.
“Then 51 weeks later I had a miscarriage and another miscarriage then in April,” Teresa explained.
Since then, Teresa said she has found the strength reach out to other bereaved mothers in an effort to “raise awareness of this taboo subject”.
And she is urging them to “honour babies too beautiful for this earth” throughout October, in particular on October 15, which is baby loss awareness day.
“It’s fearful, I understand that,” she said, “sometimes people avoid bringing it up as they don’t want to offend.”
But “it’s more hurtful not acknowledging our children”.
“I had Leonie in December 2013 in what was classed as a normal pregnancy,” she explained, “no complications. It was just when I went into labour, they told me that she was stillborn - I didn’t know that much about it and misunderstood the term.
“Then 51 weeks later I had a miscarriage and another miscarriage then in April,” she added.
“When I went into pregnancy I was quite green and just like everybody you want to hope for the best and everything to be fine.
“But for a lot of women that’s not the way.”
After her first experience with baby loss Teresa said the hospital gave her and husband Martin a memory box from Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Support charity SANDS to help them grieve Leonie.
“The box had two teddies,” she added, “one for us, one for Leonie, the butterfly poem, memory card for pictures, hand and foot prints, locks for her hair and information on SANDS.”
After that Teresa joined their support group in Cookstown, which meets at 7.30pm on the third Monday of each month at the Beacon Centre.
There is help available
Before Teresa and Martin lost Leonie and suffered a further two miscarriages, they were unaware of the help available.
“I’d never heard of SANDS, GBS Aware and Count the Kicks. I didn’t know any of those charities existed until it did go wrong,” Teresa said.
“Count the Kicks, they have a wrist band that you can count your kicks and if you have any concerns you can contact them on what you should be doing.
“Statistics show one in every 200 births ends in a stillbirth, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
And with this thought in mind Teresa said she would urge any expecting mother to “keep persisting” - even if doctors send them away when they report concerns.
“I have met women who said they knew something wasn’t right, but they were sent home. Just keep going back. You know your body, you know your baby’s patterns.”