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.
Utter devastation as the doctor very clinically told us ‘Your baby is dead’. The four worst words we’ve ever heard.
For what felt like an age but was only a few seconds I didn’t breathe and felt like my heart stopped.
Then the tears started, as we held each other my wife and I just sobbed.
With what we’d gone through over the last 12 weeks - my wife’s mother dying unexpectedly, six weeks later my wife being rushed around hospitals on the verge of drowning to discover she had kidney failure and needed dialysis while pregnant.
We thought we were over the all the drama and could ‘relax’ and get through the next month until Thomas would be delivered – albeit six weeks or so early.
We remembered that my mother was with us in the room as we were going ‘baby shopping’ after the scan and I could hear her crying. Thankfully the midwife in the room with us comforted her.
Although Southmead Hospital wanted to admit Denise to hospital and induce her there and then, we still had to take my mum home to my dad and tell him that his first grandchild would be born asleep and then repeat the same back home with my father-in-law.
The midwife was very understanding and booked us in for Monday morning and told us that Denise might go into labour anyway, and if this happened, we should go straight back to Southmead.
The weekend dragged. Eventually Monday morning came, and we made the journey in silence back to Southmead Hospital. Once Denise gave her name we were let into the delivery unit and a midwife called Christine met us and looked after us.
Once the drip had been set up to induce Denise the chaplain came in and spoke to us and we spoke about funeral arrangements. The chaplain was brilliant and came back a bit later and let us know that the funeral had been arranged for 16th January.
After that we just waited for the drugs to do their thing and bring on labour. Later on, the evening of 5th January 2004 Thomas Byrom was born asleep, again the tears fell and we spent time with him after the midwife cleaned him up, dressed him and brought him back to us in a tiny basket.
We were both completely in love with him but felt so cheated that he had not been born awake.
Shortly after we moved from the main delivery suite to the Maple Suite and began to grieve. The next morning Thomas was named and blessed by Avril at the hospital chapel. He looked so peaceful.
The midwives and chaplains at Southmead were all amazing and so caring with us and Thomas – they couldn’t have done any more.
We were given a handful of leaflets and told that these were organisations that might be able to help us but without any real explanation or guidance. Although it has taken 14 years I’m grateful to have ‘found’ Sands.
Picture: Peter's tattoo. The pink and blue heart is a tribute to baby Thomas and inside is a rainbow heart for his rainbow baby Harrison, who he was blessed with a year after Thomas died.
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.