35-year-old Sofia Khan from Lancashire has shared the heartbreaking moment she gave birth to her son then watched him die in her arms after her abortion failed.
The grieving mother made the decision to terminate her pregnancy after discovering her unborn child had a severe case of spina bifida and was unlikely to live.
“I think his birth and death were so much more traumatic because I just wasn’t prepared for it – nobody was. Nobody had listened to me when I said I felt him kicking. Nobody believed me,” Sofia expressed.
“And so the shock and the loss I felt were so much more powerful and I don’t think that will ever leave me. I think about my little boy every day.
“I hope in future that midwives will listen to mothers. A mother’s instinct is so powerful.”
Sofia and her husband Shakeel were over the moon when they discovered she was pregnant. But a scan revealed the baby had a severe case of spina bifida, a defect that occurs when the spinal cord and spine don’t form properly.
“I was devastated. I kept thinking that we would manage and that he could have surgery to help him.”
However, more scans showed he also had no fluids around his brain and knee joints.
After long discussions, they decided to abort their baby. “We were heartbroken, but we made the decision to terminate. We felt it was best for the baby but even so I had moments of doubt and guilt.”
After the procedure, medical staff said it had been successful. ““The doctors did two scans which confirmed there was no heartbeat. It was a relief to know his suffering was over but heartbreaking that he was gone.”
When she was transferred to a local hospital, she felt a strange feeling in her belly. “As I waited, I felt the baby kick. I told the midwife but she said it was impossible. I asked her to put the monitor on to be sure but she said there was no need.”
After 10 hours, she gave birth and was stunned to hear her baby crying. “I thought I was going mad. I thought I was hearing the cry because that’s what I wanted – my baby to be alive.
“The midwife went into shock. She was screaming for help, she ran with the baby into the corridor.
“They brought him back and said: ‘What do you want us to do?’ and I didn’t know what they meant. I held him and cuddled him and told him how much I loved him.
“He was such a fighter. He had a huge hole in his spine and he was very disabled, and yet he hung on to life for an hour.
“I can’t help thinking that he was determined to have one cuddle with his mummy.”
Doctor Dinakar Seshadri, a neonatal consultant, said the parents had been right to choose termination. “At the time it was a brave decision and I believe it was the right decision they took,” he said.
Sofia added: “I am still grieving. I think of him every day. But I have my older son to keep me strong and he makes me smile.”
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