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 during 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.
I was 17, married to my life partner and pregnant with our first child.
We thought we had the world in front of us, then on 27 October 1989 our world came crashing down. I went into premature labour.
I attended the local maternity unit and the doctors scanned me and then left the room with the midwife who then came back in with a tablet and said: "Take this, your baby has died. This will help speed labour up", and then left.
A short while later my husband asked how long would I be in labour for and the midwife replied: “Could be three days yet” and she then left.
I went to the bathroom and I also gave birth to our daughter Jayde Eloise Bennett while on the toilet.
They took me back to my room and my husband wasn’t there, they said: “Oh, he has gone to another room and won’t be long.”
They wrapped my daughter up and took her away. At this time I didn’t know whether I had given birth to a girl or a boy as I wasn’t told anything. I think I was still in shock from being told my baby had died.
My husband came back and asked what had happened. I told him I had given birth and I asked if he would go inform my parents.
During the two hours he left, a domestic came in and gave me some magazines and said: “You have something to read now.” This was the last thing on my mind.
When my parents came up with my husband my mum kept saying: “She was only small, she would have had to be in special care for a while.” I then asked why she kept saying she so she replied: “You had a little girl, the midwife said you knew.” But she hadn’t told me and hadn’t been to see me at all.
My husband had to leave that evening as partners was not permitted to say overnight. So I was left alone until the next morning when the midwife came in and said: “There’s a picture of your baby in this envelope, do you want to go hold the baby?” I replied no at the time which is my biggest regret in life.
I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to let her go at the time, bearing in mind I had been alone for 12 hours at this time with my tears and thoughts. She then said: “Pay for a funeral as the hospital ones are basic, just you can attend, and they are not nice.” She then went on to say: “You are only young, have another baby soon and you will be OK.”
I was then discharged. When my community midwife came to do my checks she said: "Can I see your picture of the baby?" I showed her and she said: “Have you looked at this picture?” I said I hadn’t yet.
She gave me it back and asked if I would wait until she came back later that day, and she came back with more pictures of my daughter. The picture the midwife in the maternity unit had taken was immediately after birth, no clothes, not cleaned up, just my daughter laid naked.
My community midwife put in a complaint about my treatment on my behalf as she said it was awful.
On 4th November my daughter was cremated. We had a hospital funeral and it was beautiful. All my family attended and it was heart-breaking but beautiful.
Although I only have a couple of pictures and my memories, I have nothing else of our daughter. But we do have three beautiful rainbow daughters and they all know about their big sister.
I have struggled through the years though and had no professional support, have no memory box like people are given now and no hand and footprint pictures. My biggest regret in life is never getting that chance to hold her.
I think if I had been asked when my husband was there, I would have had the courage to hold her and tell her how much she was loved. I do tell her every day in my heart though.
Next year she will be 30 and with my husband, our three other daughters along with their partners and our five grandchildren we will celebrate her birthday. I also once again carried her photo with me and wore my Jade stone necklace at our daughter’s wedding in September, so she was there alongside her sisters.
Two years ago one of our daughters married and I did this when her sisters were bridesmaids. Our youngest daughter then took her bouquet up to our daughters resting place and gave her it so she had flowers for a bridesmaid too. She is doing the same later this year too.
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 Sands now to help ensure a bereaved parent doesn't have to cope alone. Thank you.