Trigger warning: this post may cause distress to some as it is Hannah’s personal experience with stillbirth.
A little while ago I stumbled upon Hannah’s blog. Letters dedicated to her son Dexy who passed away a few weeks before his due date. This is her own account about her pregnancy, birth and being a mother to Dexy, navigating a different type of motherhood to most of us.
Hey! My name is Hannah Pontillo, I’m 21 and I live in Brighton. In my tiny flat I manage to squeeze in my husband Phil (just about) and my little chihuahua Toby.
Now, I could boast about how I found being pregnant easy. I mean, don’t get me wrong some days I would waddle like a duck complaining of my puffy ankles and fingers. But, I loved having my son with me 24/7. I felt like I finally found what I was meant to do in my life. I never realised how much I wanted to be a mum until I saw those two bright pink lines. From that moment on, everything I planned for our future was as a family.
On January 1st 2018 I was 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I woke up around 4am to go to the toilet for the millionth time that night. My son was punching me and kicking me like he did all the time. He did nothing but fidget and move. The worlds worst behaved baby at scans and appointments. I laid in bed unable to get back to sleep for a little while so I just laid there holding my massive bump in my hands thinking how this little guy is due in 23 days and “fuck I am never going to sleep again”
I woke up at 10am. No kicks. No punching. No movement. I tried everything to get him moving. Everything that would normally make him go wild. We decided to call the hospital and they told us to come straight up. When we arrived I was hooked up straight away to the heart monitor and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. The midwife then called someone in to scan me. There he was. My little boy in black and white with the stillest heart I have every seen. Our baby was no longer going to come home with us.
I was induced in hospital on the Thursday and on Friday at 20:08 my beautiful son Dexy Jude Pontillo was born. No cry. No movement. Sleeping peacefully.
We spent three days with him in the hospital taking hundreds of photos and a charity “Remember My Baby” came in and took some beautiful photos of him. We tried to make as many “normal” family memories together in those three days. We watched movies together, we played, we cuddled and we cried. Leaving Dexy in the hospital was probably the hardest part knowing that you are never going to see him again and all we have now are those memories.
About two weeks after Dexy died we had his funeral. When it was all over and everything started to settle down, I decided I wanted to reach out to people. I needed to help other families. I started a blog to help raise awareness, to help pregnant women lower their chances if they were more aware, and to help families cope with their own loss.
“I didn’t know every 1 in 200 births resulted in this”
All the way through my pregnancy stillbirth was never brought up. I didn’t know every 1 in 200 births resulted in this, that’s around 15 families a day saying goodbye to their child. Everyone goes on about the 12 week mark. When you get to 12 weeks everything is going to be OK. Your chance of miscarriage is at the lowest. but what can happen after those 12 weeks? That’s what no one talks about. We need parents to be to know and understand the risk of late-term miscarriage and stillbirth. Yes the risk is low, but I never thought in a million years it would happen to me. We need medical professionals to talk to us about what to look out for and what we should do if we doubt anything. It’s so scary to ring the hospital to check your baby incase it is “nothing” but no matter how small it is we as pregnant women need to feel comfortable to ring them.
Dexy had no cause of death. 40% of stillbirths and pregnancy loss have no cause. We get told to keep an eye out for swelling, blood pressure, infections and the flu. I had none of these. My baby was still taken from me. You see many pregnancy apps talking about babies having sleep cycles in the womb but every baby has a pattern of movements and you know what they are because you feel them everyday. Even if the slightest thing changes please ring to be sure. We need to break the silence and we need to break the shame. My life has changed but if it wasn’t for Dexy, I wouldn’t have been able to reach so many lovely families and share my son’s life and his story.
You don’t get over baby loss, you learn to cope. Stay strong and stay aware.
Hannah Pontillo – Dexy’s mum. x