Ten little fingers, ten little toes, chubby cheeks and rosebud lips; Sophie Mules was perfect in every way.
But, at 40 weeks and six days, sweet Sophie was born still.
Stillborn babes are sometimes referred to as ‘born sleeping’, but do these words make the reality harder to bear? Is it a softer, fragile phrase that contradicts the desperation parents must feel when willing with every fibre of their being for there to have been a terrible mistake?
One can only imagine the physical ache that must exist while wishing for baby blue eyes to open, breaths to be taken, or a cry to be heard. For a ‘sleeping’ baby to wake.
For Sophie’s parents Heidi, 38, and Ned, 36, there was no mistake. Despite her heart strongly beating on the obstetrician’s monitor at 40 weeks and 5 days, Sophie died as labour started the following day.
The reason? An accidental placenta abruption – a rare complication whereby the placenta comes away from the uterine wall prematurely and may cut off a baby’s life supply. In some instances, there are known risk factors. In Heidi and Ned’s case, there were none.
On Wednesday 7 December 2011 at 6.44pm, Sophie was born after a textbook pregnancy and labour – and a mere four hours after her parents learned she had died.
Earlier that morning, Heidi had period-like pain that gradually intensified. The contractions were irregular and not unbearable and, considering second labours are often faster than the first, Heidi called the hospital three times to check when to be admitted, and the midwives asked if she’d felt the baby moving.