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Getting rid of the guilt: “facts” that helps us deal with question if we could have done more to save our baby?

Disclaimer I am not of scientific background and all the things I write are solely my opinion, my experience and observation through two pregnancies of which one resulted in baby loss and second has been a high risk pregnancy.

Disclaimer 2. This article is not written to blame doctors but to make you more aware of

Guilt is the main feeling that stays probably forever in small percentages in all women that lose their babies – could I have done more to save it? Am I to blame that my baby died? Why I didn’t feel that something was going wrong? Why I didn’t react on time?

The reason I felt guilt is because I had a feeling that something was off, and I didn’t listen to it. One evening, days before emergency c section, I told my partner that I’m not sure when Aurora moved last time. He told me to have dinner and let’s see. After the dinner, I thought I felt her move. Later on, I realised those were not her kicks, but her body just moved somehow with me. After going to my private gynaecologist in the morning, I was reassured that everything was okay because there was the normal heartbeat present. So, I pushed my gut feeling away.

I will regret forever not listening to my intuition. Not being more careful and aware. But could I have really known? Haven’t I tried to do something by going to the doctor?

And I realised – it was not my mistake.

Do you know that private gynaecologists are not always equipped well to determine properly if baby is doing well?

If it is not a clinic where they deliver babies, they send you always to hospital delivery ward. With a reason because they are not equipped in case of complications. At least, that is how it functions in Czechia. The best checkups, that are saying if a baby is in distress, are monitoring of blood flows in umbilical cord and brain, and CTG. Research has confirmed that the changes in the blood flow of umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery indicate fetal distress1 . Regular ultrasound scan or sonogram cannot tell much about baby’s well being and is not 100% accurate even with detecting major deformities. It depends on the accuracy of machine itself or the person doing it.

When I went to my private gynaecologist after I didn’t feel baby move, I relied on her expertise and she relied on the optimism unfortunately. 18 days later, my daughter breathed her last breaths in my hands and I held her until the doctor pronounced exitus lethalis, or when the heart stopped.

I can still feel her body on morphine on my hands. It weighs my hands from under shoulders to the tips of my fingers. It has been the first time I held her naked in my hands, without any tubes. Her body unnaturally relaxed, injected with doses of morphine just in case, so she wouldn’t feel any pain.

Human’s worst nightmare.

Do you know that baby can be in distress even though there is a regular, normal heartbeat?

That’s on of the reasons why doctors do not recommend home dopplers for heartbeat nowadays as indicator if baby is doing well. The average baby heartbeat is between 110 to 160 beats per minute. The decrease in heartbeat definitely tells that something is wrong. However, my baby heart continued beating normally even though her brain has been deprived from oxygen. Her heart continued to beat for long time after she let her last breath out too.

If I went immediately to hospital and they did CTG or checked blood flow to her brain and placenta, probably they would notice something is not matching.

Do you know that baby does not decrease its movements towards the end of the pregnancy? Baby does not run out of the space?

My biggest regret is not writing about it enough…

After I checked in to my private doctor, she reassured me that baby is okay and never explained what the real movements should feel, that baby should move regulary and so on…

Baby never stops moving and kicking! You will feel healthy baby kicking they say at least once in an hour…as it has been my first pregnancy I hadn’t been not even so aware of her movements. Or what the actual movements should be. There are a lot of false information circling around that baby runs out of space, gets too big, so the movements drop. WRONG!

Doctors nowadays are missing very important part to their job – to educate women what normal and not normal signs in pregnancy are.

Normal baby movements are kicks! Different strengths.

Do you know it is your right to be given or to demand, if needed, all the analysis available?

After we have been told by a doctor that everything is okay and that we probably overreacted, we will really question our inner feeling. Even when that feeling continues, we will probably think we are inventing, the doctor said everything is okay.

I have noticed that the doctors are relying mostly on their experience rather than doing the analysis for every particular case. Everyone presumes that women should know and ”sense” what is happening in their own body. Well, if that would be true, there would be no more diseases like cancer because we would ”sense” and ”predict” what is happening within our bodies…However, when we do follow our inner feeling that something is not right, we are being told that we are panicking without reason, that we are inventing, and that we should relax. When this comes from a someone in a white coat, we really start doubting if it’s like that. Research has confirmed the existence of maternal instinct during pregnancies which resulted in stillbirth2 . 75% of mothers said they had some feeling that something was wrong. Most of them ignored the feeling because it was their first pregnancy or they were assured opposite.

I took the case to the police investigation because I believe the doctor who followed my pregnancy has not done enough. Of course, for police there has not been anything wrong because she has not done nothing directly to kill my baby I guess. She has done minimum and for them it had been enough. The decision letter from police still awaits for me to read it till the end. I don’t have strength to finish it because it infuriates me even more. I cannot understand how a trained medical professional to whom I entrusted my life, can answer officially to police question if she did enough, that my feeling of baby movements is a subjective feeling and who knows what would anyway happen if she sent me to hospital?!!!!?!

Do you know that mama and baby do not have an automatic connection by conception?

Not even by birth. Not even in first days, sometimes months. To me it took 3 months to “connect” to my son. I loved him from the beginning, but he was this unknown person that I had to get to know, and it takes time. This is one of the reasons probably we are unsure about our gut feelings while pregnant.

Chanel your fear!

The next feeling is what if it happens again – the fear! When the guilt and fear connect we are as good as nothing. Destroyed by what happened and everything wrong that could happen. This is very hard to manoeuvre if we dont have needed support. What I found in my second pregnancy is that fear that we feel should be directed to help us to be more aware and cautious. All the questions that swirl around our head should be directed to doctors. Should be directed to recognise a caring doctor who tells you information based on analysis done and not opinion.

So when we take everything in the consideration, could we really have done more to save our babies? We could have done more if the baby was diagnosed with some disease, deformity or difficulty, then we would be given a choice and it would be to us. This is the only scenario where we could have done more according to our ethical compass. Everything else that happened was nothing we could impact or “sense”. The mother intuition is not something we feel strong during pregnancy, even though some research reports it might be present during pregnancy. The same study quoted that respondents in their first pregnancy mothers were pushing away this feeling as first time mummy worry. Especially if the doctors were finding heartbeat after checked in with decreased movements worry, women would suppress their gut feeling.

So, my dear mama who is reading this, it is really not your fault.

You have done everything you could!

Stay strong and hopeful mama!♥️

Refferences

1 ”The clinical value of blood flow parameteres of the umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery for assesing

2 “They told me all mothers have worries”, stillborn mother’s experiences of having a ‘gut instinct’ that something is wrong in pregnancy: Findings from an international case-control study ; Jane Warland 1Alexander E P Heazell 2Tomasina Stacey 3Christin Coomarasamy 4Jayne Budd 5Edwin A Mitchell 6Louise M O’Brien 7

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