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The Words 'There's No Heartbeat' Destroyed Me

Photo Credit: Gerilyn Dowding

On July 21, 2023, at 25 weeks pregnant, I went to the hospital after I woke up to heavy bleeding and contractions.

Within minutes of my arrival, the first medical team I saw used a Doppler and completed an ultrasound. After a bit, they found Eden's heartbeat. I was told she was having episodes of bradycardia and that her fluid levels had dropped significantly.

I was then told I’d be kept overnight in triage to be monitored, and then most likely sent home in the morning. And that the issues would “resolve."

As a 21-year-old, I knew no better at the time and trusted the doctor.

As the night progressed, my contractions got worse and I started getting sick physically, both things the nursing staff was informed of but ignored. The only time I saw a nurse was when they gave me morphine shots for pain and Gravol for the sickness.

The next morning, after a shift change, I was RUSHED down for an emergency ultrasound. That lasted all of five minutes before I was brought back to the triage bay and had my whole life destroyed by three words.

At 6:50 p.m. on July 22, I gave birth to the most beautiful, tiny little angel I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Miss Eden Amber-Theresa Dowding was born weighing 1.10 ounces and measuring 12.5 inches long.

I was given from 6:50 p.m. to 10 p.m. to say both hello and goodbye to my daughter because I wasn’t ever offered or informed that a cooling cot was available.

My baby never even got a bracelet.

I feel like the medical team didn’t see her as a baby. They made me feel like she didn’t matter to them and that hurt so much.

All the testing we've done has come back showing she was healthy. We have zero explanation as to why this happened, why the doctors and nurses didn’t help her, or what happened to cause all of this.

Since then, I've been fighting with everything in me for justice and answers for my Eden, and along the way have started advocating and bringing awareness to stillbirth in relation to malpractice. I never want this to happen again.

Thank you Gerilyn Dowding for sharing your story. Shared with permission.

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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