As part of Sands 40th anniversary this year, we will share 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby. Starting in June to coincide with Sands Awareness Month and our #FindingTheWords campaign, we aim to show the sheer number of people who are affected by the tragedy of a baby’s death, help other bereaved parents to understand they are not alone and raise awareness of the issues surrounding stillbirth and neonatal death. Visit our 40 stories for #Sands40 to view other blogs in the series.
My baby was born at 5pm in the Nightingale Maternity Home, Derby after a 12 hour labour on the 9th January 1964.
We had just been allocated a brand new council house and were full of joy. We knew the baby would soon be born as I was nine days overdue.
The last hour of labour was horrendous - the nurse in charge sent two other nurses for a break saying 'there's nothing happening here' and proceeded to gaze out of the window for what seemed like ages while I lay there in agony wishing it was all over. The two nurses returned from their break and started taking blood pressure and listening to her heartbeat.
I think I was given gas and air but not sure. I realised from their concerned expressions something was wrong. A doctor was summoned and I was given an episiotomy and gave birth naturally.
The baby was whisked away to somewhere behind me while the doctor presumably gave resuscitation. I strained my neck round to try to see her but I never got the chance to see her face or hold her. A nurse appeared at my side and asked what the baby's name was to be as they would christen her. I told them her name was Natalie.
My next recollection was being in a single room. I reached for a glass of water on my locker and knocked the lot to the floor as my eyes could not adjust. When I first saw my face in a mirror the blood vessels were all broken due to straining to give birth.
I remained in hospital for a few days and it was agony hearing other mothers' babies crying. I was told the baby would be buried but there would be no funeral. I still wonder why we were not given the choice. Many years later I returned to Derby on holiday after moving to Scotland.
I visited the office at Nottingham Road cemetery and asked the lady to check the record book to see if my daughter was buried in the cemetery. She found Natalie’s name and date of birth and told me the area where children were laid to rest. There was no specific area so my husband and I chose a spot against a wall near a tree.
On a later visit we placed a little cross made by my husband saying ‘Natalie Woodford 9.1.64 Here for a day.’
Photo: Memorial to Pat Anthony's baby Natalie
Twenty-four years later my second daughter gave birth to premature daughter who died after three days. Things had changed, a lady minister sat with us, christened her, let my daughter hold her and allowed us to take photographs. Henrietta had a funeral and was buried at Weston-On-Trent cemetery, Derby.
Natalie would have been 54 this year and it is important that I am able to return to Derby every year and put flowers on her grave. We planted snowdrop bulbs and the grave looks beautiful every spring.
15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. We want to reduce this number, but we need your help. Support #FindingTheWords initiative now to help ensure a bereaved parent doesn't have to cope alone. Thank you.