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.
In October 2017, our first born Violet Esme Banham was stillborn. She was the most incredible, beautiful little girl I have ever set eyes on. No one prepared us for this kind of news, experience and heartache, I didn't even realise this could or would happen at such a late stage in pregnancy especially during labour. I knew stillbirths happened but I never realised how common it is especially in late pregnancies.
The day of labour arrived and I was feeling fine. We had decided to settle into our room where I would be giving birth. A few hours passed my usual checks were complete and everything was looking good, until I became hot, sweaty and started to feel unwell. My midwife checked me over and decided to put me on the monitor to check baby's heartbeat and activity.
I'll never forget the moment she picked up the Doppler and placed it on my bump to check our baby's heartbeat she placed the Doppler on again, she couldn't find it, it had gone. To everyone's surprise Violet’s heartbeat had stopped within minutes. Our hearts were shattered. The whole room went silent you could see the wave of sadness over everyone's faces. It's the most heart shattering thing me and my husband have ever had to go through. I then became very ill; it had come to light that I had an infection which had turned into Sepsis and little Violet had suffered with this too which stopped her heart from beating.
A special bereavement team came in to look after us who had discussed what we would like during the birth, the only option I had was to have a natural birth due to the infection I was suffering with.
The moment Violet was born my heart shattered into a thousand pieces not only from love but with pain that she was born sleeping and I would never hear her cry for the first time.
Whilst we were staying in the bereavement suite at our local Birthing Centre as a family of three we met our bereavement midwife. This lady is now a special lady to us who has helped us through the weeks of dealing with the loss of our daughter, I can honestly say if I hadn't had the support of this amazing bereavement midwife I don't think I would be coping as much as I am. This is how I came across Sands. Sands leaflets were provided to us whilst we were in the suite. Both me and my husband read every booklet available to us, we looked online at their website for support and this is when I decided to raise vital funds for Sands.
I decided to set up a blog, Instagram and Facebook page to start raising awareness of stillbirth, Sepsis Disease and Group B Strep as I wanted to speak to bereaved parents walking the same path as me to find some comfort and talk about the death of our daughter to others who know what it's like to lose a baby and raise vital funds for charity.
Photo: Grace Banham with her daughter Violet Esme Banham.
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.
If you would like to share your story please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 020 3897 3449 or send a letter to Lee Armitt, Press Office, Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity), Victoria Charity Centre, 11 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RB.