When Jude and Geoff Davies went for their 12-week baby scan in October 2020 they were given some devastating news.
Their baby, called Bee, had stopped growing and its heart had stopped beating. Two days later, Jude went into hospital ready to have an operation to clear her uterus the next day. Coronavirus restrictions meant she was all alone.
“I didn’t make it as far as the operation,” the 42-year-old said.
“My waters burst just before midnight and I gave birth to my baby in a hospital bedpan on my own. My husband wasn’t there and he’s my rock and a great source of support for me. I didn’t want to ring him and tell him either because he was at home with the kids and he couldn’t have done anything even if he had known.”
It was the couple’s second miscarriage in 12 months.
The pair from Heath, Cardiff had spent the whole pandemic up to that point grieving for Morgan, who they lost in October 2019, 12 weeks into Jude’s pregnancy. The loss of Bee doubled their pain.
The couple now want to share their story to help other grieving parents. They have also started a miscarriage charity to help parents through the emotional process of losing a baby.
When Jude and Geoff, also 42, first met, they had no major desire to have a baby together because they both already had children from previous marriages. However, when they got married in July 2019 something changed. The couple began to warm to the idea of having children together and started trying for a baby.
“I fell pregnant quite quickly,” said Jude.
“Then at five weeks I started bleeding. We went to the doctors and they sent us to have the heartbeat checked at the hospital at six weeks and they said the baby was strong and growing well so obviously we were elated.
“Then when I was at 12 weeks I got out of bed one morning and realised I was bleeding again and that was a trip to accident and emergency – it was Saturday, December 21 just before Christmas.”
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Jude said that nobody was available to see her so she was booked in for an appointment on Friday, December 27.
“I came home that day and went to bed. I wanted to stop whatever was happening so I thought lying in bed was my best bet,” she said.
“The bleeding was on and off for a few days but then on December 23 I was in a lot of pain – similar to contractions – and couldn’t do much. I was sort of shuffling from my bedroom to my bathroom.
“That evening I had what I can only describe as a volcanic gushing of blood and that’s when we realised things were more serious and my husband phoned an ambulance.”
Jude said that before the ambulance arrived she deteriorated quickly.
“I was losing consciousness so a neighbour had to help my husband take me into the car so we could go to the hospital and when I got there I was rushed straight into resus because my blood pressure was so low and I kept fainting.
“They gave me medication and said I had passed everything and they sent me home on Christmas Eve. However, when I went back for a scan the following Friday they found that the foetus was still in my uterus.”
The couple were faced with the impossible decision of what to do next. Jude could either take a tablet, have the foetus removed manually or have an operation. However, she continued to bleed and ended up having all three procedures.
“I was shocked, my world came crashing down around me,” said Jude.
“I tried to block out what was happening, internally reciting flavours of soup for something to focus on. I felt numb, overwhelmed, sick and just incredibly sad and confused.
“I remember feeling embarrassed as they had had to cut my underwear off and the number of different people who had given me internal examinations and had to check to see how much I was bleeding”.
Something that keeps the couple going is the fact they were able to cremate both their babies so they were able to keep the ashes and always feel close to Morgan and Bee.
Jude said: “We put each of their ashes in a build-a-bear so we can physically hold them. It means so much to us because we can feel as though our babies were real – because they were. Having that has really helped us and our family with the grieving process.”
Because of how traumatic the process of losing Morgan was, Jude and Geoff decided they wanted to help others in their situation.
In the UK a baby who dies before 24 completed weeks is known as miscarriage or late foetal loss. A stillborn baby is after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. The cruel circumstances forced them to notice a stigma as well as the lack of available support for parents and families who miscarry before 24 weeks. As a result, they started not-for-profit group, Morgan’s Wings, in February 2020.
“People don’t realise what you can go through with a miscarriage, they think it’s just like a heavy period but I was really quite ill with it,” said Jude.
“There’s a perception in society that when you lose a baby that early, it wasn’t really a baby, but for me, it was. My husband and I made plans for both our babies and to have them cruelly snatched away was really heartbreaking and I’m still emotionally suffering now.
“My husband felt awkward talking about miscarriage as well but that’s why we’re trying to help other men because it affected him as much as it affected me. It was just more of a physical process with me but he of course was absolutely devastated – maybe twice over because he had the fear of losing me as well.
“After I lost Morgan I really shut myself off. I stopped talking to people. It took a while but I did have counselling that started in June last year. By the time I had Bee, because of the community we had built with other bereaved parents through Morgan’s Wings, I think I was able to cope a bit better, though I still get really upset about it.”
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Morgan’s Wings offers numerous ways of helping bereaved families who miscarry, especially parents who miscarry at an early point in pregnancy. In only a short space of time, the organisation has managed to help families all over the world.
Jude explained: “So far we’ve probably helped hundreds of people, but not just in south Wales.
“When you give birth before it’s classed as a still birth, there is no birth or death certificate for the baby so you can feel a bit like your baby didn’t matter, so we offer Certificates of Life to replace them and I’ve emailed them as far away as Mexico, Greenland and Iceland.
“We do care packages that we’ve taken to hospitals in south Wales. For me, I was kept in after an appointment and I didn’t have anything to clean myself up with, I didn’t have a toothbrush. I literally had what we walked into the hospital with. It’s just those little things, we want to try and bring a little bit more comfort.
“We helped a dad recently who was really suffering after he and his partner had miscarried a few years ago. Men are less likely to miss out on support and he rang me and spoke to my husband. It was just somebody to talk to who had been through the same thing.”
Jude and Geoff are always in the process of raising funds to help fund the care packages, certificates of life and memory boxes.
In March they will complete a March for Morgan where they and some friends will complete a sponsored marathon throughout the month of March. All money raised will go to further supplying care packages and memory boxes.