“I was all by myself!”

Georgie Burford is one of thousands of women who have had to go through their pregnancy experience whilst the nation is in lockdown due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has meant that hospitals up and down the country have had to assess how best to continue to provide pregnant women, babies and families with expert care, whilst navigating the new threat of COVID-19 to its patients and staff. That’s meant tough decisions being made and restrictions put in place to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

For Georgie, it meant that she was by herself at her 12 week scan, when the sonographer spotted that there was excess fluid on the back of her baby’s neck – which can be a sign of a chromosomal condition such as Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s Syndrome. She was taken to a quiet room for a chat. Georgie, said: “I call it ‘that room’, that horrible small space where I knew bad news was coming. I was just heartbroken after hearing what it could all mean. And I was all by myself! I wanted desperately to call my husband Scott, but couldn’t speak through all the crying.”

After further testing, the couple’s worst fears were confirmed.  Their baby had Edwards’ syndrome, a chromosomal condition which affects the baby’s growth and development. Georgie was told it was very unlikely her pregnancy would last to full term, or if it did, the baby would likely die shortly after birth. The couple were absolutely devastated.  

She returned to the hospital to be induced and her baby boy William was born at 17 weeks. Due to the tough restrictions in place to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus, it meant the Georgie had to go through the traumatic experience alone. She said: “To go through that, and not have my husband by my side to hold my hand, encourage me, tell me everything is going to be ok, was so, so hard. The midwives were wonderful, but I needed him.”

Georgie came back to the hospital a couple of days later to visit her baby with her mum, but as she reached the hospital entrance, she saw a heavily pregnant lady outside. The sight of the lady hit her like a brick wall. She broke down crying at how unfair the situation was. Her mum tried her best to console her and together they continued on to the mortuary to see William.

Georgie said: “I was a little anxious to see him again, but as soon as I had him in my arms again, I was overcome with a feeling of comfort. This is my little boy, he’s perfect. Looking back, I’m so glad I went to see him again. It was a real moment for me to bond with him before having to say a final goodbye.”

Our plans for Woodland House mean that in the future our bereaved parents facing the shock and distress of losing a baby will be able to spend time as a family in a quiet, serene, and private space away from the main hospital building. It will be somewhere they can come back to, to visit their baby, without the fear of running into pregnant women or happy families leaving with their newborn.    

Georgie said: “This has been the toughest time of my life, and to go through this loss during the pandemic has made the experience for me and my husband Scott that much crueller. Whilst having Woodland House wouldn’t have changed the outcome for us, having a safe space where we could spend time alone together as a family after the birth, to comfort one another, would have made a massive difference.”