A mother has slammed the midwives who took care of her pregnancy who she claims mistakenly told her the baby was ‘dying’ and recommended termination.
Harriett Blakey, 27, a director from Lincolnshire, fell pregnant with her daughter Poppy, now 15 weeks old, in March 2021 and was overjoyed to be starting a family with her partner, Jamie.
In May, the pair went to a scan and the midwife told them that she had no concerns and that the baby was active with a strong heartbeat.
But just a few days later, she attended another scan with her local hospital to officially register her pregnancy – but says there was trouble finding the foetus.
Harriett Blakey, 27, a director from Lincolnshire, fell pregnant with her daughter Poppy, now 15 weeks old, in March 2021 and was overjoyed to be starting a family with her partner, Jamie
Pictured with baby Poppy and partner Jamie, Harriett went to register her pregnancy days after her 12-week scan – only to be told by midwives that there was trouble finding the foetus
‘The sonographer appeared to be struggling to find the baby and so she pressed into my stomach even harder, causing me a lot of pain,’ Harriett said.
‘The baby wasn’t active like they normally are and was curled up at the bottom of my uterus.
‘Abruptly, she told me there was a problem and asked me if I wanted to call my partner.
‘I told her my baby was fine and that she didn’t need to be so negative.’
Harriet was told there was a problem and asked if she wanted to call her partner not long after getting scanned (baby Poppy pictured as a newborn)
Harriett, pictured with Jamie and Poppy after the birth, said she was told by a senior midwife that the baby had nuchal translucency thickness which is fluid under the skin
Harriett began to feel sick and wanted to go home but was asked to stay and speak with a senior midwife, who explained that the baby had nuchal translucency thickness (fluid under the skin).
It was much higher than average levels, indicating a ‘serious problem’.
She claims: ‘She showed me a scan picture and pointed to the black area on my baby, and said the fluid shouldn’t be there and is an indication of a serious problem.
‘I was spoken to as if my baby had already died.
Harriett claims that she was shown a scan picture that had a black area on the baby (pictured during pregnancy)
Pictured: the scan image of Poppy that Harriett was given after being told her baby was unwell
‘I asked her if there was hope but she couldn’t comment.
‘I felt like I was lulled into a place of giving up. I was heartbroken, devastated and in a state of disbelief.’
Harriett requested a second scan, which confirmed that the fluid was very thick.
She claims to then have been given a leaflet titled: ‘Dealing with grief after terminating a baby with abnormalities’ but couldn’t bear to open it.
The expectant mum was also allegedly told that it was unlikely her baby would survive.
Harriett said: ‘I sat waiting for three hours for my partner to come home, then had to break his heart too.
The 27-year-old claims to have been given a leaflet titled ‘Dealing with grief after terminating a baby with abnormalities’ but says she couldn’t bear to open it
Harriett said: ‘I sat waiting for three hours for my partner to come home, then had to break his heart too (pictured, Poppy)
The mother from Lincolnshire says she cried and grieved for a person who had died, explaining that the experience with the midwives made her forget the baby still had a heartbeat
‘I cried and grieved for a person who had died – I forgot the baby had a heartbeat and was still wiggling around.’
Harriett called the hospital to ask for help but claims she was told there was nothing they could do over the weekend, so decided to take matters into her own hands.
After scouring the web for answers, she found a test that could tell her more about her baby’s genetics and booked in with a private practice in London to have a full set of tests.
She also had a third scan, which later confirmed that her baby had Down’s syndrome.
She said: ‘On the scan, our baby looked wonderful.
‘Hands and feet waving, strong and consistent heartbeat – everything was looking just like a baby should.
Harriet scoured the web for answers and found a test that could tell her more about her baby’s genetics and booked in with a private practice in London to have a full set of tests
On her third scan, which later confirmed that her baby had Down’s syndrome. She said: ‘On the scan, our baby looked wonderful. Hands and feet waving, strong and consistent heartbeat – everything was looking just like a baby should’
‘We fell in love and although the nuchal translucency was thick, the doctor told me this didn’t matter.
‘Two days later, we received results that confirmed our baby to be a girl, with Trisomy 21.’
Trisomy 21, otherwise known as Down’s syndrome, is a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome.
At this point, Harriett felt at her lowest and worried about facing her family and friends if she were to terminate the pregnancy.
She said: ‘I was embarrassed – I felt like I had failed to make a baby properly.’
Harriett contemplated terminating her pregnancy but ultimately decided against it.
She said the private doctors in London told her that the fluid under Poppy’s skin was thick but ‘this didn’t matter’, and two days later, they received results that confirmed the baby to be a girl and that she had Down’s syndrome
However, at 28 weeks, another issue was detected: the baby had a blockage in her bowel, a condition called duodenal atresia, often associated with Trisomy 21.
It means she couldn’t eat or digest amniotic fluid as normal, and it was also found she has a heart defect.
Harriett said: ‘This was my first baby and I couldn’t believe it was such a disaster.’
Once again turning to the internet for help, the budding mum found a specialist at St Thomas Hospital in London, who helped to ‘regain her faith in the pregnancy’.
Harriett said: ‘The specialist took a personal interest in T21 and placental function. He was an expert in his field and he taught me about my unborn baby and my body.
‘Every scan was a science lesson. He was magnificent.’
The specialist’s new scans, which confirmed that Harriet would be unable to give birth naturally due to the health risks associated with too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios).
Her baby was also presenting breech, so when signs of labour started, an emergency C section was performed on 2 November 2021.
Her baby was also presenting breech, so when signs of labour started, an emergency C section was performed on 2 November 2021
Harriett added: ‘My little girl Poppy was born and operated on at 17 hours old to remove the blockages’
Harriett added: ‘My little girl Poppy was born and operated on at 17 hours old to remove the blockages.
‘After seven days the second operation excelled her recovery and she is now a beautiful, happy baby.
‘I have been unlucky in some of the care I have received and I know I shouldn’t have been offered termination before diagnosis.
‘I shouldn’t have had to do this alone – but I am proud to say that she deserved a chance.
‘To say I am in love with my daughter is an understatement. She is cherished every minute of the day.
‘I know what I almost lost and she deserves so much love and warmth because she is so special.
‘I have been unlucky in some of the care I have received and I know I shouldn’t have been offered termination before diagnosis,’ Harriett said. ‘I shouldn’t have had to do this alone – but I am proud to say that she deserved a chance’
The mother from Lincolnshire says that she wishes people would see that she is ‘not trying to burden the economy’ with having a disabled child, but ‘simply having a baby’
‘I wish people would see that we are not trying to burden the economy with disabled children – we are simply having a baby.
‘I wish we could be left to enjoy our pregnancies, rather than being chucked down care pathways and stopped at every trimester to check if we would like a termination.
‘Poppy is a gift, not a burden to me. I often think “what if” – I feel sick at the thought of what I almost gave up on.
‘She has made me the happiest I’ve ever been and, although we’ve had a rocky start with her, she has been worth every single tear.
‘My daughter has such a charismatic little personality – she looks so deep sometimes, like she’s reading my soul.
‘I look at Poppy and cannot believe the fight she put up to be here today.
‘You can see she means business – nothing stops her and nobody can get in her way.’