The Families

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Baby Lauren Victoria

Baby Lauren Victoria Partridge ^|^ 31 December 2004

It has taken some to share our story in detail and even now, 2 years on, the hurt, anger and pain we feel at reliving it is difficult to explain. In telling our story we hope that other parents will be spared the same emotional trauma and heartbreak that we have experienced. Lauren is our miracle, we miss her every day; she will always have a place in our hearts, our lives, our home and our familes.

Since our loss, we have campaigned hard for changes to the current processes and protocols for scanning of women deemed to be at high risk; low lying placenta, multiple pregnancies, IVF, bi-lobed placenta. lt is for Lauren and all of the other beautiful babies Iike her that we continue. Their deaths are an avoidable tragedy.

Our Story

Our story starts on Saturday 8 May 2004. I woke that morning and knew with very little doubt that l was pregnant. I had experienced the same nausea with my first child, Josh, 13 years ago. The reality of it was a wonderful surprise to both of us, Nick and I had no expectation of having children between us owing to fertility problems. It was excitement and trepidation we felt as we waited for our appointment and confirmation at the surgery. The process of nurturing the baby growing inside me began. l was 38 and Nick was 41.

We very quickly got used to the idea of having a baby, but despite this l was unhappy about sharing our fantastic news until we had had our first scan. Our ages being what they were I was extremely nervous about anything going wrong.

We made the decision to have our first scan at a private clinic, it was 28 June 2004. l was 13 weeks pregnant. Those first images of our baby were extremely emotional and we left the clinic in awe of what we had seen. The images of her moving around were amazing and even from that early visual we knew she was a beautiful baby. She was perfect. Our dreams confirmed we could do nothing but talk about our plans for the future.

Our families were over the noon and very protective of me, Josh wasn‘t quite so enamoured by it, but we were sensitive to his feelings and with time, explanation and an opportunity to attend a scan with us, we were very soon all looking forward to her arrival. Our daughter was due on Christmas day, 2004.

I was deternined she would have the best start in life and was extremely conscientious about what late, activity I undertook and rest I had. After a couple of weeks of nausea in the first trimester l started to blossom. Had the outcome not been so devastating, l would comfortably say I probably had a near perfect pregnancy.
At the 20 week scan it was noted that I had a low lying placenta and a re-scan was arranged for week 34. This didn’t really disturb me, a low-Iying placenta is apparently quite common and the chances are it would move in time. I continued happily, the baby was growing well and moving frequently, I was fit and healthy. Nick being more curious than me, asked many questions about relevant risks and dangers, but we were reassured that this was quite common and that often the placenta receded before full term At no time did anyone mention the possibility of Vasa Praevia.

At the 34 week scan the placenta was still low-lying and was observed as 24mm from the internal OS. The registrar on duty observed this as a major placenta praevia and requested that I be admitted for immediate bed rest the following morning. The urgency she displayed concerned me, however I arrived home to a message from the Registrar apologising for a mistake in her diagnosis, after consultation with a coleague it was confirmed that only a minor placenta praevia existed and it was not necessary to be admitted. The recommendation was to carry on as normal and come in for a further scan at week 37. She assured me that there was nothing to worry about.

At the 37 week scan the sonographer/midwife indicated that the placenta was 25mm from the OS, within the 50mm limit for their hospital and therefore I would be recommended for a caesarean section delivery. l was a little disappointed, but the safety of our baby was paramount and if that’s what it took I was happy to oblige. The sonographer/midwife was overruled by the Registrar, who confirmed the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines stated that within the 20mm proximity was the limit and therefore Sharon would be fine to have a natural birth. We asked the Registrar again if there was any other risks or considerations whlch we should be aware of regarding the low lying placenta at this stage, and we were told that everything was fine. We left feeling uncomfortable but thought well they are the professionals and must know what they are talking about. We left with an appointment to return on 30th December 2004, should our baby have not arrived on the due date of Christmas day. We returned to the hospital on 30th December, now four days past full term in full expectation of another scan. This was not given but instead they gave Sharon a membrane sweep to bring on the labour.

The arrival of Lauren Victoria

Around 9.00pm on 30 December 2004, I noticed some minor spotting so attended the maternity suite for a check, where I was duly admitted. The baby‘s heartbeat was monitored for close to an hour, with no abnormal activity recorded. In fact Lauren was extremely active, Nick and I watched with anticipation as she moved around in my turrmy. I was allocated a bed and Nick sent home and told to expect a phone call in the night.

My waters broke about 11:30pm and contractions commenced shortly afterwards, I couldn’t believe our luck, today was Nick’s birthday, Friday 31 December, Lauren had chosen to surprise her daddy with the best birthday present ever. Throughout the pregnancy I had spent hours talking to Lauren and now was no exception, I told her how pleased her daddy would be, how elated we were to have her, what a little minx she was for making us wait all this time and spent the next hour or so pacing the ward to ease the pain, grining with excitement. As the contractions started to increase in intensity I asked the on-duty midwife to call Nick, at which time I had such a strong contraction I was doubled up in pain. She advised me to take to my bed where a midwife would come to me. When she arrived to examine me she told me that there were a couple of blood clots and that I would be taken to delivery suite immediately. l was a little nervous, particularly following the drama which had occurred over the suspected placenta praevia.

On the way there I felt Lauren moving and couldn’t wait to meet her, not long now l whispered to her, be easy with mummy.

Very soon I was on the delivery table and quickly attached to the heart monitor, my contractions were extremely intense. Within no time a sense of urgency seened to set in among the attending staff, and it was suggested I would be prepared for an emergency C-section. l wasn’t fully aware of what was happening but was alerted to a change in the heart rate, I remember asking what’s wrong, what’s happening. The registrar on duty appeared and said it was too late to commence a C-section, that the baby was well on her way and encouraged me to push. I argued that I didn‘t feel ready but she told me I must, I really didn‘t want to give birth without Nick present, we had patiently waited for this moment, but I didn’t have a choice.

I gave birth to Lauren within 7 minutes and 4 pushes, at 3.02am I thought I was dying, there was so much blood. I remember the midwife saying, here’s your little girl, she showed Lauren’s limp body to me very briefly. There was no cry. Then rushed her on to the resuscitation table in the delivery suite.

Nick had received his call at about 1.45am and made his way the 9 miles to the hospital as quickly as possible. In the car park he received another call from the delivery suite to say that the baby was coning fast and to get there quickly.

I remember Nick rushing through the door of the delivery suite just after Lauren had been delivered, I looked at him and all I could say over and over again was ‘I’m sorry’, ‘l’m so sorry’. I instinctively knew there was sorrething very wrong. I willed Lauren to cry with every breath that I took. Lauren was a perfect baby girl, weighing in at 7lb 2oz.

The delivery team were completely baffled and trying all of their usual remedies for strugging new born babies. They began resuscitation and after 30 minutes picked her up and moved her quickly to the special care baby unit (SCBU) where she was connected to lots off wires and given help with her breathing. All of this was taking place in front of us. I can‘t honestly say that I clearly remember what happened after that, think I probably went into deep shock, I just remember praying for Lauren’s survival, wiling her to come round. I kept telling her how much we loved her and how strong she must be. Nick was proactive in chasing up activity on Lauren and was in and out of the delivery suite regularly. By this time my mum had arrived and Nick had shared the news with her.
After an hour had passed they decided that they would try and give Lauren some blood as they had realised that she had lost most of her blood as she was being born. But Lauren fought on against all of the odds. The transfusions were very difficult and not very successful as her tiny veins had not started to open yet as no blood had been available to kick start her system. Babies can survive lots of trauma in birth but one thing they cannot survive is having little blood at birth.

They moved us to the Snow drop Suite, a room which had established on the side of the delivery suite by the Still Birth And Neonatal Death Society (SANDS). lt was some time before they took us to see Lauren in the SCSU. She didn‘t move or even open her eyes. I held her tiny little hand and gave her all the energy I had left. l would have given anything to see her come round. Every few minutes the alarm on the machines would sound and all of the doctors and nurses would run to care for her.

After some hours the Registrar on duty came to us in the Snow drop Suite and explained that Lauren was very ill and her prospects were very grim, she was unable to sustain any self support. He recommended that that they should not continue to keep reviving her when she had fits or struggled to breath. We couldn’t believe that from being expectant parents a few hours earlier we were now being asked to consider allowing Lauren to slip away peacefully. lt seemed like this was not really happening to us, but we knew Lauren had been without a good Oxygen supply for some considerable time and eventually agreed to the doctors recommendation.

We went to the SCBU unit where they took Lauren out of the cot and disconnected her wires and tubes. We held her in our arms as she slipped away, 6 hours after her birth. As I kissed her goodbye, I longed to breath life into her, to give her the opportunity she so surely deserved. ‘The expression of total loss and despair was unbearable. lt was at this time we realised we were holding a real angel in our arms.