A mum who lost five babies has told of her heartbreak and joy as she finally gave birth to her miracle baby boy.
Sophia Williams had already been through four miscarriages, and had one little girl when she and her husband experienced tragedy once again.
On Thursday, July 21, 2016, the couple's life changed forever when their daughter, Ava Hollie Williams, was stillborn just one day before her due date.
Sophia has told Plymouth Live of her journey of heartbreak ending with her seventh pregnancy that finally yielded the couple's 'rainbow baby' – their healthy little boy Lowen.
Sophia, 30 and her husband Gareth, 34, who now live in Liskeard, have dedicated their time to supporting and helping other parents through stillbirth and pregnancy and set up Ava's Fund, in memory of their daughter.
They have made it their mission to help other bereaved families and fundraise so that more training can be given to reduce the amount of stillbirths.
Sophia has shared her own account of what it was like to become pregnant after suffering four miscarriages and the stillbirth of Ava.
The words no parent wants to hear
"Saturday 24 November 2018, I’m pregnant.
I’m pregnant, the two pink lines I am staring at confirm it, it’s early in the morning and I am aware, before anyone else in the world that I am pregnant for the seventh time.
I get back into bed, wake my husband and tell him the news.
We smile and yet we are terrified.
We’ve both experienced the same tragedy, we’ve both had the innocence of pregnancy taken away from us.
I didn’t know how to feel. My body felt entangled with a multitude of emotion.
I was excited, I felt immediate love for the new life growing inside of me, and I was happy for we had another chance of bringing home a sibling for our eldest daughter.
On the flip side, dread, worry, concern and a longing for the future we could only hope this pregnancy would present us with filled my mind.
I prayed for a healthy living baby, as that’s all we wanted. Boy, girl, it honestly didn’t matter, so long as they were ok.
Having previously suffered four miscarriages and the full term stillbirth of our second daughter Ava, it was difficult to believe our dreams would become a reality.
The next eight months were some of the hardest I have ever lived through.
I was going to have to find a strength I never knew I had.
I’d seek help from sources which I’d never known existed and I’d worry each day about a million and one different things.
At my first midwife appointment, my midwife walked out of the room and wrapped her arms around me. We’d been in the same position just a few months earlier when she’d booked me in for my sixth pregnancy.
Another tiny baby I tragically went on to miscarry at ten weeks gestation. We’d miscarried three times before this in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
Our first miscarriage happened on my birthday in 2015 while we were in Disneyland Paris…
During my first midwife appointment my midwife kindly suggested the services provided by the Perinatal Mental Health Team. Putting on a brave face I told her I’d be ok.
But I wouldn’t be and if I’d been honest with myself, I knew that I wouldn’t be. I just didn’t want to admit it.
The first twelve weeks of my son’s pregnancy were filled with concern regarding miscarriage. Prior to finding out I had fallen pregnant with him, I’d just started to have investigations as to why I’d miscarried on four occasions.
I was due to have another hospital appointment, which I had to cancel when seeing those two pink lines.
Every time I went to the toilet I was worried I’d be confronted with the signs of another miscarriage occurring.
And on New Year’s Eve while bucket shaking for Ava’s Fund (set up in memory of Ava to help raise awareness of and reduce stillbirth rates across the South West) it happened.
There in front of me was the sign I’d been dreading and I had to leave the charitable event early.
I called my midwife and she booked me an appointment for an additional early scan on the 2nd January 2019. Thankfully, the bleeding had been caused by a subchorionic hemorrhage and our baby was ok.
I went on to have many scans throughout the pregnancy, constantly checking to make sure our baby was okay.
Before reaching the halfway point, I found myself in hospital with suspected appendicitis. When this happened my only concern was for that of our baby, wanting to know whether they’d be able to operate if necessary and if our baby would be okay.
Thankfully the suspected appendicitis was a false alarm and everything was okay.
At around 18 weeks pregnant when I was sat in the doctor’s surgery being prescribed antibiotics for an infection I asked whether they’d be able to listen in to my baby’s heartbeat.
I laid on the table for what felt like an eternity while they attempted to locate the beating sound which I longed to hear.
After what felt like forever I saw the look on the doctor’s face as she said to the other doctor we need to call the hospital and arrange for this lady to have a scan.
I burst into tears knowing that the last time I’d heard those words the scan confirmed our daughter’s heartbeat had stopped beating.
We’d heard what no parent wants to hear, “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat”.
Thankfully in the very same moment, our little boy’s heartbeat was found but this didn’t help my anxiety as I was still terrified that the heartbeat they had located could’ve been mine and that something was wrong.
I asked whether I could have a scan so that I could see our baby alive on the screen but as the heartbeat had been located this wasn’t an option.
I called the hospital directly to ask the same thing and again I was told that because I hadn’t had any bleeding and because his heartbeat had been heard there was no need for a scan.
I remember leaving the doctor’s with tears running down my face
I messaged my friend and she suggested some grounding techniques to help me calm down.
Due to my anxiety being really bad my husband and I paid to have a private scan the following day. The scan took place at Babybond in Plymouth and the sonographer was amazing.
He went above and beyond to show us everything in detail and let us know our baby boy was okay.
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