40 stories for #Sands40
40 stories for #Sands40, | 18 June 2018

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.

Andrea and Ian Hawkes - baby Benjamin

We went to our 20-week scan hoping to be able to see our precious baby for the first time.  As the sonographer was doing the ultrasound scan, it was clear there was something wrong but didn’t want to say. 

The measurements were taken and the scan finished, the sonographer went to see the consultant obstetrician. The consultant came to talk to us and to explain the scan. Our little baby did not have a correctly formed cerebellum and this was likely to cause further problems in the pregnancy. Crushingly they also seemed to think we had a baby girl when we already had two young and healthy boys.

The pregnancy didn’t progress well from there and we found ourselves back in the maternity department a week later and having to go through full early labour to deliver our baby.  Our baby boy was born at just seven ounces and we decided to call him Benjamin.

This was an extremely difficult time for both of us, having gone through a pregnancy but not being able to bring a baby home with us. 

Our family and friends rallied around us and were happy to share in taking care of us and our family.  We were able to have Benjamin buried and we now have a place where we can go and remember him.  As a family we talk about him a lot, and even new members of the family that have come along since, know Benjamin, and look to him as being part of the family.

Only last year, 13 years on, we were finally able to fully reconcile our feelings. We always felt disappointed that Benjamin didn’t have a birth certificate and his name recorded.  Through the kindness of my sister, we arranged a naming ceremony in the hospital chapel which allowed us to really remember Benjamin and what he means to the family.  We know he is watching over us and that gives us comfort on those darker days.

On the day of his birth, we were given lots of support from very kind and caring hospital staff.  We were able to use the special room, decorated and looked after by the local Sands group, which made us feel as calm as could be expected in such situations.  These are all people who understand what we, as parents had to go through, and we cannot thank them enough.

Photo: Andrea and Ian Hawkes - baby Benjamin

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. 

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