Home > TMC Talks > Real Life Story: The Day My Heart Stopped And So Had His

Shel Parker @shelparks describes what it feels like to lose a baby and why it’s important for others to talk about loss.    

*Please note this story may be triggering.

I decided to work for a few years after college, which meant I had to go back to study for another year before being accepted into university. 

After a long old slog to get there, it was a bit of a shock to find out that I was pregnant in the middle of year one.

Not only had I just started my course, but I also still lived with my mum, and I was in a newish relationship (one year in).

My situation was challenging, to say the least!

My partner and I decided that we weren’t in any position to give a baby the life it would deserve, financially or emotionally. So, after discussing this ENORMOUS decision over and over, we decided now wasn’t our time.

We didn’t speak the whole way to the appointment, and we sat in the waiting room in dead silence. Eventually, after what felt like forever, they called my name. As I was walking through the corridor, I saw a couple, a 30 something-year-old woman and a big, tattooed, muscly man. The man on his knees sobbing into his hands and the woman in pieces on a chair. I was listening to the nurse console them; they had lost their baby. I continued into the room and listened to the information the lady was telling me, at least I was meant to be listening, but my mind was just racing. “Take a seat back in the waiting room, and you’ll be called through to go down to the theatre”, she said. I went back in, sat down, and tears began to creep into my eyes, and my stomach was in knots. I gazed over at my partner, and he was welling up too. I told him I couldn’t do it, and he looked at me with relief and said he couldn’t either. We left the clinic and set off home, discussing on the way how we were going to do this. How would we tell everyone that we were going to have a baby? And how were we going to manage? “We just will.” We said to each other. It was then that we realised how lucky we were to be blessed with a baby.

Next thing I knew, we were on our way to our 12-week scan. Because we’d been on holiday, our scan was late, and I was 15 weeks pregnant. At this point, I had a cute little bump emerging, and my face was rounding off nicely. The excitement was unreal, and it was all I could think about at work that day. Shortly before I was due to leave for the appointment, a thought suddenly entered my head, “What if there is no heartbeat?” I mentioned my concern to a colleague, and she assured me that I would be fine, as I was young, fit and healthy. Of course, I would be.

I met my partner at the hospital, and we couldn’t wait. We got the tokens ready for the scan pictures, and I was going to get loads, one for mum, dad, me, my partner, my sister, his brother and everyone else. My name was called, and we went in. As I lay down, the excitement overwhelmed me. The nurse put on the gel and began to wriggle her thingy around on my belly. In front of me was the big screen with my baby on it. I was starting at it. I was so happy, there was my baby! I experienced emotions I’d never felt before. It was amazing.

And that’s when she asked, “Have you had any problems? Any bleeding?” I quickly answered. “No, why, why are you asking that?”. She replied, “I won’t be a moment”, and she left the room. My partner and I just looked at each other and then continued to look at our boy on the screen. She returned with a man, and he used the same stick to check my belly. “Yes”, he said to the woman and left.

“I’m afraid there is no heartbeat”, she said. “I’m sorry. The doctor has just confirmed it”.

My partner fell to his knees and cried like I’d never seen him cry before, gasping for his breath. He was in pieces. I was just still. I stared at the screen at my baby, and all I could see was him. A DEAFENING all-consuming silence surrounded me. My heart had stopped and so had his.  

The nurse talked, throwing statistics at me, explaining things (so my partner told me), but I couldn’t hear a thing. I couldn’t feel a thing. All I could do was breathe and stare at my baby on the screen. An image that still haunts me and a feeling that occasionally takes over me and reminds me of the worst day of my life.

1 in 5 pregnancy’s result in loss. Did you know that? I didn’t.

The nurse walked us through to the next room to tell us what would happen next. I was still emotionless. She explained, “You’ll have to come for an operation, the foetus is quite big now, so you can let it pass or have it removed, and you will be put to sleep”. I opted for that as I couldn’t bear to see such a thing. She then went on to explain how I would have to wait until Monday for the procedure. So, I was sent home with my dead baby still in my belly, and I had to deal with that for four days, the longest, most painful four days.

My whole body was in shock, the nurse left the room, and I broke. I cried. I couldn’t breathe, and I had pains in my head. We got home and pulled up on the driveway. The anxiety I felt walking down to the house was palpable. I just didn’t know how I would tell my mum what happened. We walked in, and my partner broke the news to her. She held me, and we cried. I called my friends, and we all cried together. I needed to tell everyone there and then, so that I didn’t have to endure that conversation for weeks. The days following, I stayed in my bedroom and cried. I cried until there was nothing left in me. I was empty in every sense.

After the operation, my partner took all calls, all texts. He held me in the night when I cried for our boy, made me eat, helped me sleep and was the absolute saviour of me. When I look back, I think I forgot his pain because I was consumed by my own. We decided that our baby was a boy and found comfort in naming him Zabe, so we had a name to refer to. We also named a star after him, so to keep his memory close by.

I hate that people never talk about loss in pregnancy. Some people think if the baby wasn’t born, then it’s not so bad. And that’s just not true. A friend of mine was my absolute saviour when it came to talking about my loss. She had experienced the loss of a child at full term, and I always felt like mine didn’t compare to hers, but told me that, “A loss of a child is a loss of a child. I lost my baby, and you lost yours”. I will remember this forever, as well as the support she gave me when I felt like I was drowning. Talking about my loss gave me the strength to continue.

Three short months later, our lives changed again, and we were blessed with a beautiful baby.

Ryhan is the absolute light in my life, and at one point, we’ll let him know that he had a little brother, who is now up in heaven watching over him.

Have you experienced loss in pregnancy? Speaking to someone about it can really help.

Both the Miscarriage Association and Tommy’s can offer extra support and advice.

Based on what you love