Stacy returned to a labour ward full of happy, new mums – to deliver her own dead daughter
As Stacy Hayzelden talks about the trauma of losing baby daughter Sienna, she fiddles with an elegant gold ring with an unusual stone.
The gem contains the little girl’s ashes and is a constant comfort to the 41-year-old. Husband Lewis has the infant’s hand and foot prints tattoed close to his heart.
Stacy said simply: “So she is with us always.”
Each year, the Sawbridgeworth couple mark her birthday with a cake and a card. They light a candle and big sister Ella, now six, knows Sienna is “the brightest star” and still very much part of their family.
Their world changed just over four years ago, on September 27, 2015.
While Lewis runs his own CCTV security company, Stacy had established a successful career with an American bank in London.
As with Ella, a pupil at Spellbrook primary, they opted for private maternity care and expected their second daughter to be born at the Portland Hospital in London by Caesarean section. Stacy had the surgery when Ella was born because the placenta was in the wrong position for normal delivery.
The couple learned at just ten weeks their second child was a girl. Stacy said: “We were over the moon. We picked a name but didn't tell anyone.”
By September, the nursery was ready and waiting for the new arrival. After dropping Ella at pre-school, Stacy went for a routine scan by her consultant.
“He went quiet and I asked if everything was OK.” Stacy needed a second scan. She said: “I knew something wasn't right.
“We went upstairs and it was at that point he said ‘I’m really sorry, there's no heartbeat'.”
Stacy was 32 weeks into her pregnancy. “I didn't believe him. I basically said ‘You're wrong, keep trying. I want somebody else in to confirm what you're saying'.”
But the dreadful truth was inescapable. “I don't really know what came over me. Anger? Upset? I just broke down.”
Stacy was sent to an NHS hospital in Barnet and Lewis rushed to be by her side. A bereavement midwife explained what would happen next. Her hopes of a safe C-section delivery at the Portland had to be abandoned and Stacy was told she would have to labour and deliver Sienna herself.
She returned home to prepare and her parents raced ahead to move the waiting pram and crib.
“I still didn't know how I was feeling at that point, but I had to go home and see my little girl and explain to her what had happened.”
Despite her loss, she had to return to a labour ward full of happy, new mums. She had no idea what to expect from the delivery and said simply: “It was just hell.”
In the end, Stacy was rushed to an operating theatre after she began haemorrhaging and Sienna was delivered by forceps. Lewis tenderly cut the cord.
They refused permission for a post mortem, so the cause of death remains a mystery. “I didn't want them to interfere with her," said Stacy. "At the end of the day, she was still a baby.”
Lewis returned home to fetch the bag they had prepared in happier times, filled with a first outfit and nappies and a Minnie Mouse toy the family had bought during a trip to Disneyland Paris. The staff placed Sienna in a cot and took a series of precious photos.
Stacy said: “I didn't hold her because I was scared I was going to hurt her. She was so beautiful and I kissed her.”
After the funeral, there was a slow journey back to a new kind of normality.
“Ella just kept us going. Little children are so innocent and haven't got a clue what’s going on. She was our rock and she still is.”
Lewis trained as a retained firefighter for Sawbridgeworth as part of the coping process and Stacy did an Open University accountancy course before gradually easing herself back into work as her body healed.
She said: “I’m the type of person who cannot sit down and do nothing. I have to be active. If I sit down my brain starts to go into overdrive and it all becomes a mess.”
She has shared her story because she believes too many people are blind to the risks of childbirth. She shudders when she sees other women sharing 12-week pregnancy scans on social media, oblivious to the possible risks.
“To say you're safe at any point... it’s not wrong but it gives you a false sense of security. I wasn't aware of stillbirth because nobody tells you.
“There’s not enough awareness. Nobody wants to go through it, but people need to talk about it more.
“And talking to people, it’s surprising how many have been through it. And they have kept it silent. We need to make people aware that it could happen.”
More by this authorSinead Corr