Siobhan and David Monteith share the story of their daughter Grace who died before she was born.
Grace Dinah Monteith was our second daughter. She was born dead in May 2014. We were 41+2 weeks pregnant when my waters broke, I was a little surprised as our first daughter was born at 42+5 and I had been preparing myself for another long wait.
We had planned another home water birth after the amazing birth of our first daughter Alannah in 2011 following a straightforward and uncomplicated pregnancy. When Tracy, our community midwife, came to do the initial checks at our home, she couldn't find a heartbeat. We decided to go the hospital for further checks to see what was happening and our hearts broke when a scan showed that our baby had died in utero.
After taking a little time to decide what to do, with the help of our friend and doula, Mars, we proceeded with giving birth at the hospital using a hormone drip to get things going. Our midwife, Kat, had read in our birth plan about how wonderful a water birth had been with our first daughter, and set things up so we could use the birth pool on the labour ward. With the help of another midwife, Gill, I was able to give birth to my daughter in the pool.Unfortunately the placenta proved a bit stubborn but finally after 4 hours and with the help of Helena, an obstetrician, we managed to deliver it without the need for surgery.
After Grace was born, it became clear that she died as a result of an unfortunate accident in the womb, in which part of the amniotic sack got wound around the umbilical cord at some point between my waters breaking and the midwife checking for a heartbeat (an incredibly rare form of amniotic banding).
We spent two days with Grace in the bereavement suite. Friends and family came to visit, Alannah got to meet her little sister and we got the chance to spend some precious time with our daughter. Two weeks later, at her funeral my husband and I sang “Amazing Grace” through the lumps in our throats. We buried her in a beautiful natural burial ground, in a grave my husband dug himself.
The care and support we received from the midwives took the sharpest edge off the trauma and enabled us to have the best possible birth experience in the worst possible circumstances.
Each Baby Counts has identified key action points to reduce preventable stillbirths. Because Grace’s death was not preventable, our hearts break anew hearing other people's stories and we applaud any effort to ensure that others do not needlessly have to experience the heartache and pain of their baby dying.
David Monteith is an actor/teacher and Siobhan is a singer/teacher. They speak domestically and internationally about home birth and stillbirth. They are launching a charity called Grace in Action, which will seek to share stillbirth and bereavement experiences while disseminating information and providing support. For more information contact David and Siobhan at email@example.com.