“We are so lucky to have welcomed our beautiful and truly amazing daughter, Zara, into this world in March 2018. Zara is our second daughter. Our first daughter, Jasmine, was born still in November 2016 when I was 30 weeks pregnant.
I had a very low risk pregnancy; there were no warning signs and no cause, I just went to sleep one Friday night, a very active baby kicking away, and woke up to stillness. Apparently, we were just unlucky. I spent five long days at The Royal London Hospital waiting to deliver Jasmine. I will always remember the kindness of the doctors, midwives and hospital Chaplain, Tasha Critchlow, who supported and cared for my husband and me during that terrible time.
The months that followed were such very sad days for us. Our life paused whilst the world around us carried on. We watched as all of our friends had their babies; we enjoyed newborn cuddles and were grateful to be able to celebrate their first Christmases and birthdays. We felt nothing but happiness for them and relief that they were spared the pain we felt. So we decided to try again.
In June 2017, I fell pregnant with Zara. Although excited we were also terrified. We tried to hide my pregnancy from as many people as we could for as long as possible. We returned to the Royal London Hospital and began a long and stressful nine month journey with our obstetric team who we got to know very well.
For us, there was no “safe” period or a point at which we could relax. We just hoped that everything would be ok and that this time we would hear our baby cry when she was born and that we would be able to take her home.
Zara was born healthy and safely in March 2018 screaming at the top of her lungs! We will never forget Jasmine and will always feel that sadness, but Zara has helped to mend two very broken hearts.
Barts Health is a big part of our personal lives too – it is where my husband studied medicine, did his all his training and now works as a Radiologist. We believe that it is very important to give back to a community in which we have lived and worked for a long time so when I saw a flyer for Barts Charity on one of my many visits to the antenatal clinic, I decided that when I was strong enough again I would do something to raise money for the Maternity Team.
So I am doing a Tough Mudder challenge to fundraise for Barts Charity, specifically the Royal London Hospital Fund, to say thank you. We will never forget all those that took care of us over the last few years, particularly:
- Susie Crowe, who came to see me every day in hospital after our loss and spent a lot of time with us providing advice and support;
- Charlotte Chaliha who helped deliver Jasmine and gave me lots of advice throughout my pregnancy with Zara;
- Gloria Duah, the lovely midwife who delivered both of our babies and took care of me on many of our late night visits to the hospital to check Zara was OK;
- Grace Waters, my lovely midwife who took great care of us during my pregnancy with Zara;
- and last, but certainly not least, my very patient (I was a difficult and challenging patient) and funny Consultant Obstetrician, Matthew Hogg, who saw me so many times in his clinic and in Maternity Triage that I have lost count and who delivered our beautiful screaming Zara and kept us both safe.
The Maternity team work very very hard with limited resources in Tower Hamlets (one of the poorest London boroughs) to help ensure that all of their patients have a positive birth experience.
I hope that my fundraising helps to fund state-of-the-art new equipment or research to allow them to continue to do so, or in sad circumstances like ours, enables them to continue to support bereaved parents.”
Jessica nominated Matthew Hogg, her Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for a Barts Health Hero award – which he won. Matthew says: “Stillbirth has such a devastating effect on those who suffer it, and for staff within maternity services it can also be really distressing to see the pain that families go through, knowing that we were unable to prevent it. That’s why we are all so delighted when we get the chance to be part of the good stuff, and it was a real pleasure for the whole team to be able to meet Zara at the end of a long and difficult pregnancy and finally see Jessica smiling again!
We are so grateful that Jessica has set herself this challenge for us: we have so many ideas for improvements and innovations to help to prevent families suffering a similar loss, or for helping them through the difficult hours, days and years that follow, and every penny raised will make a difference.”