Harry, My Angel

Harry, My Angel

***Trigger warning. Contains description of baby loss***

The blue lines

Announce your presence.

But I know you are

With me,


Any pee on a stick


Displays life.


Such a quiet


In my womb.

Always quiet.

All 21 weeks

We are together.


Your peacefulness

Tells me

There is unease.

That you’re not meant to stay.



When we hear

The words




A knowing shock

Overtakes me.


Awake with you

For the week

I still

Hold you

In my womb.

Still giving you life.


The day arrives.

Remember, remember

The fifth of November.

A homely room

For two.

No, for three.


“Take this pill”

They say.

The pill

To ensure

You are

Born sleeping.

Too shocking

To comprehend


You come


That same day.


“You don’t

Have to endure


They say.


A live birth,

In another room,


No pain relief.

For hours.


Oh the blinding


Until finally,

The big needle

Gives some respite.



Explode outside.

While inside

Oh so peacefully,

You arrive.


Forever sleeping.

So tiny.


Dressed as an


I hold you close.

I kiss you.


We say goodbye.

And then,

They take away

Your physical body


There are no tears.

Just a chasm,

So deep,

No emotion

Can surface.


No baby

To hold

On the journey home,

After birth.

Just your tiny

Hand and footprints.


In the days after,

Life-giving milk


From my breasts.

How utterly



But still no tears.

Until I see

Your toy-sized


And finally,

We weep.


“ARC is the only national charity helping parents and healthcare professionals through antenatal screening and its consequences

Around 800,000 women in the UK become pregnant each year. More than 40,000 will be told there is a risk their baby has a serious fetal anomaly. Naturally, this causes a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty. Most parents will ultimately be reassured the pregnancy is progressing as expected. Sadly, some will receive the devastating news that their baby has a serious, sometimes lethal condition or might be told that the outlook is very uncertain.

ARC offers non-directive information and support to parents before, during and after antenatal screening; when they are told their baby has an anomaly; when they are making difficult decisions about continuing with or ending a pregnancy, and when they are coping with complex and painful issues after making a decision, including bereavement.”

Breaking the Uncomfortable Silence

“We all have our stories, histories, journeys that lead us to where we stand today. I didn’t expect to share part of mine so soon on here, but reading an article led me to want to scream out – why was judgement being made on such a defining decision in my life?

As a word of care and warning, some of this may be hard to read, but sadly the subject of baby loss in any form never makes comfortable reading.

The article which prompted me to write this, is brilliantly written. I am so truly grateful to the women who bravely contributed their baby loss stories, allowing much needed awareness to be shared.

But there is a frustration. Why does an article written with such tenderness about stillbirth and miscarriage, change its tone when referring to baby loss due to finding anomalies, and making the choice to terminate the pregnancy? As I read on, the reason for the change in tone was very clear.

The word “feticide” was standing there starkly staring me in the face – foetus killer.

Why include such a punitive word in a beautifully touching article?

When I was pregnant with our second child, we discovered at the 20 week scan that our baby had brain, heart and kidney defects, he didn’t have a stomach and after he was born they were unable to tell us his sex as his genitals were too deformed (test results told us later we’d had a baby boy). He had Trisomy 13 or Patau Syndrome, a chromosome disorder resulting in the baby rarely going to term and if they do their life expectancy is very short. With barely an organ working in his poor little body, how our baby had lived to 20 weeks was unfathomable.

I know of women who have chosen to wait for their baby to go to term, die in utero, or at birth. I know women who have chosen not to see their baby after the birth. For me, all I could do after birthing him, was share a tender moment with him, giving him a cuddle and a kiss. He had been born sleeping and as tiny and unexpected looking as he was, I will always be grateful for that time with him. I have photos of him and his hand and footprints which I cherish. Whichever decision is made in this desperate situation, there is no right or wrong, and certainly not worthy of judgement.

So, seeing that punishing word “feticide” made me angry, misjudged and sad that once again those who have experienced baby loss, through anomaly and termination, go largely unrecognised or castigated because they took part in the decision to end their baby’s life.

My children know about their brother, he will always be part of our family. Just last weekend we went to visit him at the beautiful Memorial Woodlands where he is buried. For the first time, I asked to be alone with him. Later that night I wrote:

“As I stood by my little boy’s grave, I thanked him, for all he had given me. For his footprints, on paper and in my heart. We had journeyed a harsh, physically, emotionally and spiritually painful path together. But finally without tears, I told him that I could allow just the sadness, now that I had released the trauma. But also now it’s time to learn, teach, raise awareness, be proud of what he has given me. I am honoured that I kissed him that night, because that’s all I could have done.

My tiny little boy, truly rest in peace son.”

Surely, not the words of a killer.

Around 800,000 women in the UK become pregnant each year. 40, 000 of them will be told there is a risk that their baby has a serious fetal anomaly. Antenatal Results and Choices is the country’s only charity to provide non-directive support before, during and after screening.”

I wrote this blog for my previous website in February 2015. Sadly I can no longer find the link to the original article. At the time I was in contact with the author. She was incredibly apologietic about the inclusion of the word “feticide”. She had meant to take it out of the article and did so. The hospital, that one of the mothers she interviewed, had used the term. It still feels shocking that such an emotive word could be used by a hospital, even if it is the correct medical terminology. Sending love to those who have had to make this life transforming decision.

Artwork by Charlie Leboff, Baby Harry’s big brother