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William Alexander

by Sharon and Rob Bateman

Date: Sat, 20 Sep 1997

It all seems like a dream, only three weeks ago I was getting ready to go to the doctors for a few more days off work. When I went to the doctors he asked a few questions about the pain I'd been having, he thought it was probably epigastric acid and nothing to worry about but asked me to pop up on the table and he examined me. He gave my tummy a prod and then went to get a Doppler to listen to Alexander's heartbeat. He tried very hard but couldn't get a heartbeat and told us it was probably the amount of tissue the sound had to get through or that Alexander was in a bad position but just to make sure he would refer me to the ante-natal clinic at the hospital for them to check.

We were obviously worried but not unduly so and dutifully drove to the hospital where they took me in for a scan, more reliable than trying to hear the heartbeat and we would be reassured by seeing him on the monitor fit and well, unfortunately when they scanned me they couldn't find a heartbeat. Rob couldn't believe it and I began to cry, Rob asked for a second opinion and they got a doctor to perform the scan and they found the heart but it wasn't beating. The technician took some measurements and it seems that Alexander died a few days after the last scan was taken two weeks earlier, he hadn't grown very much since then.

Rob and I were left alone for a few minutes to come to terms with the news and have a bit of a cry. They then measured my BP which was so high I could have had a seizure at any moment; they rushed me up to the labour ward and gave me something to bring the BP down. The midwives were wonderful on the labour ward and all expressed their sympathy and did everything they could to make things easier for me and for Rob. They had to put in a drip and a catheter and hooked me up to a BP monitoring machine which checked my BP every 15 minutes, unfortunately with my BP being so high the machine had to pump the cuff to bursting point and bruised the top of my arm so badly that by the next day my BP was going up every time the machine started to work. My face began to puff up and went very red and I got a temperature, they gave me some anti-biotics to counteract that which worked without any problems. I had various doctors trying to get the BP down but the drugs they gave me made me sick and brought on a violent headache which kept me awake all night.

On Thursday, which was the next day after my admission, they decided to induce Alexander's birth and inserted pessaries after giving me an internal examination, they did this five times with three hours in between each one. By the end of the day I was very sore and in a bit of pain, each pessary brought on period type pains but nothing else. They did keep giving me the medication for the BP which made me sick so they decided to give me Friday off. During Thursday there was a big scare when my BP went through the roof and they couldn't get it down, at any second I could have had a seizure and I had three doctors and two midwives all panicking around the bed. On Friday they took out the catheter and the drip (but left the piece in my hand) and took off the BP monitor and moved me into a lovely room with a comfortable bed and an en-suite bathroom. I had a lovely bath and I could walk about to relieve the pain, a nice quiet day, I still had to have blood taken and my BP monitored but in between these things I could do what I wanted. Then on Saturday they decided to try a different drug to induce Alexander, after another internal which showed I was about 2 cm dilated (that accounted for the blood etc., I was losing down below) they inserted some tablets and not long after I began to get period type pains.

They had found a drug which didn't make me sick which seemed to be keeping my BP down and that was a big improvement and we then just had to wait for things to happen. Four hours later they gave me another tablet to bring Alexander on and not long after that I began to get stronger pains. At 3.15 I rang for the midwife because the pains were coming at 1minute intervals and were quite strong, they gave me a strong pain killing injection and at 3.45 they brought in the delivery trolley, by 4.15 Alexander's feet were in the open air but the rest of him was stuck, I pushed and pushed but we were getting nowhere, they couldn't feel the cervix but the opinion was that I hadn't quite dilated enough and we needed to get some more of the drug inside me to open the cervix to let his head out. Unfortunately the cannular in my hand had clogged up and they couldn't get the drip in and couldn't find any veins on the other hand. The contractions had stopped or become so weak we couldn't do anything with them, they called for the doctor and then I got into trouble. The pain became so intense I was taking the gas and air continually and they were trying to get the drip in my other hand and they tried to give me an internal to see what was happening. The gas and air was making me dizzy but the pain was unbearable so I passed out, when I came to the drip was in and they had given me the internal but I wasn't really back with them, I was panting and couldn't control my muscles but it wasn't long before the drug kicked in and my cervix opened fully and out came Alexander. The pain subsided and I came back to full consciousness while we waited for the afterbirth to come. The afterbirth was whole and I had no other problems. Rob said he had never been so scared in his life when things began to go wrong, he could hear the rising panic in the midwife's voice and I couldn't respond to what she was telling me. My BP stabilised and the next day they let me out after taking some blood and checking the BP.

Whilst we were in hospital we had to make lots of choices about whether to see Alexander or hold him after he was born (which I didn't) and if we wanted photographs of him and whether we wanted to make our own funeral arrangements or not (not - the hospital is making the arrangements) whether we wanted a post-mortem (yes). They also gave us literature to read on what happens after a stillbirth. We couldn't have had better care in the hospital and it is continuing now I'm home. The midwife has come every day sometimes more than once to check my BP and make sure I'm okay, the doctor has been out three times to make sure my medication is working and that I am recovering. They have given us Alexander's photograph and we have had the funeral and we are trying to find the strength to carry on with our lives.

I wrote a dedication to Alexander to be read out at the funeral, here it is:
Today we say goodbye to William Alexander, it is our chance to say thank you for the joy you brought to our lives, even though you had less than half a life. We will always feel cheated that you were taken from us so young, before we had a chance to know you but we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone can we truly appreciate what we have lost and we want you to know that life without you is very difficult. Although we will never know your smile or hear your voice, you will grow in our hearts and dreams, we are proud to have you as our son. Alexander you will never be forgotten and we will always love you.

It is with a heavy heart and crying eyes that I wish all of you the peace which we can not find but I am sure we will come to in the end.

Sharon and Rob Bateman

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