Child Bereavement UK made our grief easier to deal with. We are stronger now.

Grace and Jennie's daughter Ava died when Jennie was 23 weeks pregnant.  They talk about their experience and how they’ve been supported by Child Bereavement UK.

“We had IVF and fell pregnant last October. It was really amazing, and we thought everything was going to be OK,” says Grace.

“I found out I was pregnant when I was only two weeks,” says Jennie.  “We had an early scan, I had no symptoms, I didn’t show. Seeing my body change was scary but exciting. It had taken us eighteen months to get that positive result.  We felt happiness and relief.”

At the twenty-week scan the baby’s legs were crossed, so Jennie and Grace didn’t know the baby’s sex.  The couple decided to pay for a 3D scan at 21-weeks, where they discovered they were having a baby girl.

“It was amazing watching Jennie’s body change,” says Grace. “I’ve never had that maternal ache to carry the baby, so I was totally 100% with Jen and supporting her - every scan, every worry, I was there, we were totally together and grew as a couple."

When Jennie was 23 weeks pregnant they went to visit Jennie’s family.  Everything seemed normal and the couple say they had no sign of what was about to happen.  

“Jennie said ‘I’ve not felt Ava kick today,’ says Grace. “I’m a born worrier, I was like ‘Eat this, drink this.’ I called 111 and they said get to hospital straight away.

“We had a sinking feeling,” says Jennie “I think we both knew that was it, it wasn’t going to be good news.”

At the hospital, they were taken into a separate room where Jennie was scanned.

“The ultra-sonographer said ‘I’m just going to get a doctor to check’.  That’s when our life crumbled,” says Jennie. “It’s a strange sort of feeling, it was like I couldn’t hear what she was saying but I knew what she was saying.”

“Personally, I felt something was being ripped from me - future hopes.” says Grace. “We’d been on a track of happiness and future dreams and got totally carried away with the feeling.  It takes you back a bit.”

Ava was born after a nine-hour labour. Grace cut the cord and Ava was placed on Jennie’s chest.

“Afterwards, we didn’t want to go out or bump into people who were going to say ‘Oh I thought you were pregnant?’ or who had new babies. You’ve lost that chance, you know that should have been you,” says Jennie.

“We were stunned really,’ adds Grace. “We were parents but not really.”

It was Jennie who returned to work first, while Grace worked half days so that Jennie had someone to come home to.  It was at this point that the couple realised they needed help to cope with the grief they were feeling after Ava’s death, 

“I was going through a tough time, I had lost my mum and dad and Ava in quick succession,” says Grace. “I knew I needed help personally. I wanted to look after Jen as well.  We needed something together.”

“We started to realise we deal with grief differently,” says Jennie. “I got to a point where I was frustrated because what Grace was feeling, I was feeling too, but we were showing it in a different way.  We needed someone to show us that that was OK”.

The couple’s medical centre told them about Child Bereavement UK. Jennie and Grace contacted the charity and started to attend bereavement support sessions.

“Some of the realisation of how the other was feeling was a shock,” says Jennie. “It made us realise we needed to start telling each other how we were feeling rather than cramming it into ourselves. Bereavement support gave us that confidence and a nudge in the right direction, it made the penny drop.  We thought we were talking but we weren’t talking about the right sorts of things.”

“It was a process like anyone has to go through, but Child Bereavement UK made it easier,” says Grace. “They made our grief easier to deal with. We are stronger now and ready to go through IVF again.  It has taken time and we are still learning from each other. 

The things we learned are still relevant, even a year on.  It’s helped us be ready to start again and we know Child Bereavement is there, as long as we need the support.”