You realised you've missed a period. Your first thought is "maybe I'm late?"
But then that "time of the month" never comes. You take a test and the little lines show up.
You are 19. Time passes and it sinks in. You're going to have a baby! A small version of you. With no idea of how you will cope - you just concentrate on getting through those first 12 weeks. You take all the iron and vitamins, and morning sickness kicks in. Symptoms of pregnancy in full force, pigging out on strange foods, satisfying cravings. The day of the 12 week scan arrives and the little alien on the screen is wriggling around. It hits. There is a little human growing by the day inside of you. The weeks pass and you count down to be able to buy pink or blue. The day arrives... the room is silent, breath held... IT'S A GIRL!
All that is pink catches your eye. Teddies and decor, little frilly socks and dresses. You paint the room all pink and get baby's cot all ready knowing you have a long way to go. The rest of the weeks are filled with milestones - feeling baby kick for the first time, hiccups and movement routines. You grow more and more everyday and the love you have grows. You wonder how you can love someone so much you haven't even met yet. You treasure every little movement and bond with your little stranger.
It's nearing the end and your due date is approaching as you count down the days, eager to meet this little human you can share your love with. You become impatient willing that day to hurry up... and with every Braxton Hicks moment comes the question "Is this it?"
IT'S HERE!!! The little niggles at first as the contractions slowly come and pass... getting stronger with every hour yet deep down you're terrified of giving birth. You sit in the bath to ease the contractions but they are becoming stronger so you decide it's time to get the hospital bag and head to the hospital.
You made it, your baby's on the way. The midwives check the heartbeat and say you are only a couple of centimetres dilated so they send you home until things progress, but in the back of your mind you are thinking 'please don't send me home'. Those tense moments at home as the pains get stronger. But these aren't normal pains. You can't even walk it feels like you're being sliced open. You can't stand the pain as tears stream.
You go to the toilet and there is a little blood.
You panic and get your support person to call the hospital.
You can no longer walk but you gain every bit of determination you have to endure the travel back to the hospital. But it's not normal. There's a niggle in your mind.
I haven't felt my baby move. I don't remember when I last felt her move. I know my baby's movements.
You ignore it. It's easy to ignore as the pains are so bad. You enter the hospital and crippled in pain waiting to be checked. After what seems like a lifetime the midwife calls you.
Your heart pounding.... mind still niggling. You enter the room and lie on the bed with the smell of disinfectant filling the air... you take in every little smell, moment, movement.
They put the pink bands around your belly and attach the trace pads... nothing.
"It's okay, baby's just sat awkwardly"... but the niggle is still there.
After half an hour the midwife calls for another midwife who brings the big white scan machine on wheels. They put the cold jelly on your enlarged pregnant stomach and start scanning. There's your baby on the screen, but no smiles. No cooing. Just silence.
The doctor arrives. You open your mouth and the words come out...."Please stop poking me... she's gone isn't she?" There's a lump in your throat and your heart is racing.
Those words that will stay with you for the rest of your life "I'm sorry we can't find her heartbeat."
You stop for a moment... like time has come to a halt and then it kicks in. The tears stream. People are talking to you but it's an echo. The room is a blur.
Your labour is still in force. The midwives make you comfortable with morphine. The tears don't stop coming. Denial plays its part. What if they made a mistake? What if she isn't gone? Maybe she will come out and just cry. You hold together through your labour and the time comes to push. You push with all your might and determination. "The head's out, one more big push"
But you don't want to have that one more push. You don't want her to come out. You want her inside where she's close. Where only you two share your bond. But the contraction forces you to push.
The room is silent as they take your baby to the little bed. There's not a single noise. The room is filled with the silence of heartbreak. There's no little cry you have waited for for nine long months. They wrap her up and as tears are stinging your face, they hand you your baby. She's not the fresh pink baby. Her skin is darkened with lack of oxygen. Her lips a deep purple but still you analyse every single inch of her. You have been moved to a second room with your baby. Cradling your perfect tiny 6lb 8oz baby girl. She's got beautiful brown hair with a blonde strip along the back and slight curls like her daddy's crazy hair. You can't stop looking at her. But she's not warm and making little faces as she sleeps. You wrap her up a little more and cuddle her a little closer to make sure she warms up. She never will warm up.
Each family member or friend who enters the room to meet her starts the tears again. Everyone soaks up every little detail of her. Your mind plays tricks on you as you lie with your baby. Did her fingers just move? Did she twitch? Maybe this is all a dream?
You get family pictures and as many memories as you can gain. Hand prints, foot prints you take in her smell. You give her a bath and put her in her 'going home clothes'. But she's not going home. She's not going to try her new car seat.
Then the midwife comes and those words you have dreaded. Those shattering words that tear you apart. "It's time to say goodbye... it's time to let go". You hand your perfect princess over to the midwife telling her to keep her wrapped up so she doesn't get cold. You fall to the floor as your legs give way and sob. Ignoring the feeling your face is on fire from shedding so many tears.
You can hear other screaming babies enter the world . Your body spikes with resentment.
You pack your things to go home. But home to what? You are wheeled down the corridor and see women in wheelchairs cradling their newborn babies, but you are numb.
You arrive home and her room is still the same but she will never lay in her cot or wear her pretty clothes or cuddle her special bears because she's not coming home. Some of her things have been moved trying to make it a little easier to handle. It doesn't make it easier. A part of you is missing. You feel nothing.
Then the questions start. What if I had got there sooner? What if I had listened to my instincts? What if they had seen me sooner? I should have stood my ground and not gone home! I should have been more determined! Why me? What have I done so wrong to deserve this?
From then your life has changed forever.
You plan her funeral to say your last goodbyes to her tiny little coffin with her one single rose like you requested.
But it doesn't end there. You don't just say goodbye.
It sticks with you for life. Every person you meet. Every time someone asks if you have children. Do you lie just to save yourself from 'the look? That semi-sympathetic/awkward look, or do you put it out there and have people not knowing what to say so they just say 'oh sorry to hear that" like you lost your purse......
You just want to shout "DON'T BE SORRY FOR ME"
I lost my baby
It hasn't defined me. It's made me stronger.
I will hold her with me for the rest of my life.
Seven years on and I still can't cope with "the look".
It's still a taboo subject.
Why should I think twice before mentioning my baby in case people feel awkward?
I'm not damaged, I'm just missing a little piece of my heart. Every day and everything that happens in my life I take with me the fact I have got through something that inside mentally could have killed me. I live my life every day for her. And nothing can ever hurt me like those last days with her did.
It still affects my life. My relationships. My family.
I can be quite closed off and scared of being hurt or damaged.
But each day I am alive is another day I'm making my little girl proud.
She now has a beautiful little brother and sister who know all about their big sister. They help with her grave maintenance and helping mummy make her proud.
Don't ever ignore your instincts. Your baby grows inside of you! You know your baby! No matter your age, race, religion you have a right to be heard and not to feel like you an inconvenience.
And if you have an angel baby then don't ever feel awkward about talking about the perfect angel you grew so close to.
The term "stillborn" people dismiss as if she didn't exist. But she did exist. She lived for nine months inside of me. She is my everything.
All babies count. Remember to count kicks - it could save a life.
In memory of my princess Kiera-louise 26.06.09
Kellie is blogging on behalf of UK stillbirth and pregnancy charity, Kicks Count. For help and advice about pregnancy and stillbirth, visit www.kickscount.org.uk