“We had absolutely no idea that anything was wrong”

Harriett and her husband, Justin, had been trying for a baby for some time, so when their first round of IVF resulted in a twin pregnancy they were over the moon. After scans at six and 12 weeks everything appeared to be progressing well. However, when Harriett attended her 16-week scan, the sonographer was unable to find either baby’s heartbeat.

“It was a terrible shock for both of us,” says Harriet. “It was still fairly early in the pregnancy so I hadn’t felt any movement yet. We had absolutely no idea anything was wrong.”

Harriett was admitted to the Abby Suite at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where she was induced. The Abby Suite is located within the main delivery area, which means patients often report feeling distressed by the proximity of crying babies and other families enjoying their ‘happy ending’. Her daughters, Lily and Nancy, were born the following morning.

“There are no words to describe how we felt,” she remembers. “All I knew was that I wanted my family with me.”  As the twins were born over a weekend, the Abby Suite was relatively quiet, meaning Harriet and Justin’s family were able to spend time with them. “It meant so much to have the people we love there at such a horribly difficult time,” she remembers.

The couple were able to stay in the Abby Suite with their girls overnight. “The staff were wonderful,” Harriett says. “We never felt that we were being rushed and everything was led by us.” When the time came to leave, Harriet and Justin chose to carry their babies to the mortuary themselves. “It was important for us to do that, but it meant walking through the back corridors, which was just so sad. We had to pass women who were obviously heavily pregnant and that just broke our hearts.”

Our plans for Woodland House mean that families will be able to spend as much time as they need together in a secure, comfortable and homely environment. Women, couples and families will also be able to say goodbye to their babies in a quiet, private space removed from the hustle and bustle of the main hospital.

Harriett and Justin are still hoping to start a family and have returned to the hospital to resume their IVF treatment. “Coming back is hard because it’s a place full of sad memories for us,” says Harriett. “I think having somewhere like Woodland House will really help people who have to go through the same ordeal.”