Joe Page – by Sue Gardiner

When Rob and I found out we where expecting our 1st child, so soon after our marriage we where very happy. Our happiness turned into worry and confusion very quickly. Having had a bad head for days the GP was called and after frantic phone calls he found me a hospital bed and recommended Rob drove me from Watford to London. He thought the journey would be more comfortable. I was just relieved that something was going to be done about my headache.

On arrival at The Royal Free Hospital A+E department we where greeted with the comment we should have known better with my history. I was confused and hurt. About 4 years previously I had been admitted to the same hospital with Benign Intracranial Hypertension. Caused, they thought, by me being put on the pill to reduce bleeding and pain during periods. They had never told me that there would be a chance that it would return.

Many tests followed and we where at one point asked to consider a termination. It was thought that this time I could have a brain tumour and the surgeon would not operate while I was pregnant. That was one of the hardest decision we have ever had to make but we looked at the plain facts and agreed that if my life was in danger to think more but, if not, we would put the whole situation in Gods hands.

It was confirmed that my problem had returned. Then the concerns of the effects the drugs would have on the baby. We continued to pray and hope. I was put on a lower dose of steroids and given a lumber puncture to remove some of the fluid.

The pregnancy continued and the hospital in Watford watched me closely. At 38 weeks I awoke to what I though was my waters breaking woke Rob and told him to prepare for the hospital. I had been told that they wanted me in at the first signs of labour. Alas it was not just water but a large amount of blood. We called the hospital and they sent an ambulance then the flying squad.

Once at hospital they used several different heart monitors but they could not detect a heat beat. Then started the induced labour as nothing appeared to be happening I had a recommended epidural as they wanted to reduce the amount of pushing because of the hypertension. It was not really happening to me it was as though I was watching a TV programme. I was delivered of a baby boy on 12th March (my nannas birthday) 1980, weighing 7lbs 14ozs.

Having said we would like to see our baby he was cleaned up a little and we had a short time to try and say both hello and goodbye. He just looked as though he was asleep there where no visible signs of trauma. The epidural made me sick and he was taken away and replaced with the sick bowl. Still in shock I did not ask for him back, something I think I will regret for the rest of my life.

I am encouraged hospitals are much more understanding about things like this now. You can never have that time back. We where shown the after birth and it appeared that the cord had broken when the membrane had ruptured something called Vasa Previa.

I am not sure how we came to the decision that he would be taken care of by the hospital. I do remember thinking that he was never anything than part of me but I do not feel that now. There was no support, no websites like this that as it develops will offer the support I so lacked. I knew of SANDS but it has changed so much. We just went home to await the results of the post mortem.

There was nothing wrong with him.

Over time life moved on and I was strong for everyone else I went on to have 3 more sons and 1 daughter. I always talked about their older brother and it was Ruth who one day said he should have a name so from then on he was called Joe.

On what would have been his 17th birthday it hit me I had 4 beautiful healthy children but that was when my grieving started I thought no one would understand but they did. My GP was lovely and wrote to the hospital. They where sorry but no photos had been taken at the time, but they did send a copy of the scan picture. (You did not get them in those days) It was about this time that I had a beautiful vision of God reaching down and pickling up Joe and taking him to heaven. That is all I have of Joe and it is treasured. (When Michael was born he was the spitting image of his older brother the only difference was he was screaming that was my sound of heaven.)