Content note: This post contains stories of stillbirth and may be triggering for some readers.
Cassie Thistleton had been having an uneventful pregnancy.
It was October 2012 and this was the Queenslander’s second child, so she knew what to expect. Her first two trimesters had been great, as far as pregnancies go.
Then heading into her 37th week, she felt contractions she knew weren’t Braxton Hicks.
“I had experienced some contracting for like a whole day. I didn’t rush into hospital about it. I knew I had an obstetrician’s appointment a few days later, I thought I’d talk to them then if it didn’t progress,” she told Mamamia.
“Then a few days after that… I’d been at the shopping centre and I started having these excruciating pains radiating down my leg while I was walking around and I thought ‘this isn’t good’.
“When I was in the car it happened about four times and then it kind of stopped… I started experiencing these extremely high volume kicks, it was rough, it was hurting, it was completely abnormal for his behaviour.
“And then it sort of subsided and he went back to his normal movements.”
Concerned, but not alarmed, Cassie wanted to discuss what had happened with her obstetrician during her appointment the next day and make sure her son Dex was healthy.
There, her baby’s heartbeat was checked and she was told not to worry. Cassie said at the time she was considered to be a high-risk pregnancy as it was thought Dex had a single artery umbilical cord – so she expected a level of care that she didn’t think was met.
“I was completely disregarded. There was no explanation as to what was going on. There was no check of the cervix to see if I was dilated.
“My eldest daughter was born at 37 weeks after I went into labour naturally. There was evidence there that maybe I didn’t naturally carry to full term.”
Cassie said she left feeling like her concerns had not been heard, but also that maybe she had overreacted.
“It was really concerning. I walked out of the office I was like ‘I just don’t feel like she did enough’. I feel like I was disregarded.
“I felt stupid, to be honest. I felt like I was just being an overreactive mother who was just whinging about nothing.”
The next day she woke and knew she was in the early stages of labour. At 9am she dropped her eldest daughter at school and was on her way home when, suddenly, everything stopped.
“I felt him kick and then very shortly after that everything stopped. The labour stopped. I wasn’t having any more pains and he just stopped moving.
“Again I tried not to panic… I did all those things to try and get him to move and he just wouldn’t move. I think I knew instinctively then that something drastically had gone wrong.”