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I Wonder If An Ultrasound Could Have Saved Her

Photo Credit: Lianne Alizadeh

After a 10 year infertility journey, 12 surgeries, 2 rounds of fresh IVF, 3 frozen embryo transfers and 7 miscarriages, we finally had our rainbow pregnancy. It was January 2021, and to our absolute delight I was pregnant with twins.

In utter shock and disbelief, we started coming to terms with the fact we'd be having two babies instead of. We finally knew that all the struggles had been worth the wait.

Fast forward to seven weeks gestation. I woke up bleeding and we thought it was all over. It turns out we had a subchorionic hematoma next to Twin Two, but were assured both babies were doing fine. The bleeds continued up until 11 weeks.

By our 12-week scan, the bleeding had stopped and. We were finally feeling more relaxed because we'd gotten to the second trimester.

COVID was in full swing which meant partners were not allowed into the hospital except for scans. So this was the first time my husband was able to see and hear his babies.

We finally started the ultrasound and immediately, everything went silent. My heart sunk. I just knew something wasn’t right when the sonographer said "I am just going to call someone more senior in."

The senior sonographer came and spent ages checking on our twins. Finally I heard the dreaded words, “I’m so sorry, but Twin Two has passed away. Based on measurements, this happened at 10+5 weeks. I know it's such a sad time, but Twin One is very healthy and doing well due to there being separate sacs with their own placentas. Twin Two passing should not affect Twin One."

We were so gutted and sad we had lost another baby, but so happy that one baby was doing so well. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe. We were then referred to the high risk fetal medicine consultant for monthly scans in case Twin Two didn’t reabsorb or any other complications arose.

All went smoothly and uncomplicated until 24+4, when I experienced my first set of reduced movements. I went into triage and was checked by a Doppler for one minute. I had an internal examination and was sent home to keep an eye on the movements. Luckily they picked back up and we continued uneventfully until 26+1, when I went back to triage with my second set of reduced movements.

The second time was treated the same as the first. Another Doppler for one minute and another internal examination. This time a urine sample and swab were done and I was sent home to keep an eye on the movements.

The next day was a Sunday and I still didn’t feel our baby girl moving as much as she normally would, but she was moving. By Monday, July 5, 2021, I was 26+3 and I wasn’t happy with her movements. Yet again I went into triage.

When I got to triage, I was checked again with the Doppler. This time it showed fetal tachycardia with a heart rate of 173bpm. The midwife said to increase fluids and she would recheck in 20 minutes.

After what felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life, the midwife rechecked and our baby was still tachycardic at 168bpm. I was then placed on a CTG machine and told not to panic if I didn't meet criteria because although they can be used starting at 26 weeks, they don’t really give accurate results until 28 weeks. After an hour on the machine without meeting criteria, the doctor wanted to do a scan, but her consultant disagreed and told her to admit me for further observation.

After an overnight stay and another three sets of CTG monitoring, none of which met criteria, I was sent home and told to keep an eye on the movements. Even though this was my third set of reduced movements, along with intermittent fetal tachycardia and a high-risk pregnancy, apparently an ultrasound still wasn't warranted.

I went home, now 26+4 weeks pregnant, concerned about her movements. But I was assured by the doctors that her not meeting criteria was due to being under 28 weeks pregnant. I was told that fetal tachycardia is normal for some pregnancies even though she had been stable at 150bpm for at least 8 weeks by this point.

The morning after turned out to be the worst day of our lives. I woke up and hadn’t felt my baby move at all. She would normally wake me up by kicking so much. I took myself to triage again and they couldn't detect her heartbeat. They brought in a portable scanner and again I heard the dreaded words, "I'm so sorry, as you can see, your baby's heart has stopped."

I had been discharged less than 24 hours prior, and her heart was beating, though faster than it should. She wasn't moving as much, but was still moving, so no one took me seriously.

I was induced and gave birth to our beautiful sleeping baby girl, Aaliyah on July 10, 2021, at 4:30 p.m.

I am now campaigning the government to get protocols changed for women experiencing reduced fetal movements. I want ultrasounds to be offered as standard procedure in these situations. An ultrasound could have potentially saved our baby girl and that’s the hardest piece of information to deal with. We are now faced with a 12 week wait for the post mortem results and for the results of an internal investigation.

Please help us in our campaign, no parent should have to experience this tragedy, especially if it’s preventable. Follow our journey on Facebook @aaliyahsangelarmy and find the petition link here. This post was shared with permission by Lianne Alizadeh.

Pregnancy and infant loss can leave grieving parents feeling isolated and unsure how to navigate the heartbreaking circumstance of living without their precious baby. Unexpecting delicately helps grieving parents navigate the complexities and heartache of life after loss.

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