My arms no longer ache like those first hours, but they are still empty – I am a mother without a baby
BBC Journalist Fiona Crack became pregnant last year with a much – longed for baby girl, but her waters broke early and her beautiful baby girl, named Willow, died. This is her story of a year of grief and healing, and the stories of 5 extraordinary women who shared her experience and all went on to channel their grief into futures that bear the legacy of their child.
In this moving article, Fiona describes her ordeal and the grief that followed:-
Grief folded and stretched time. ..One day we travelled to a register office and an official asked quiet sad questions. We left holding legal proof she was here, she was real. Birth and death shared the paper, the only document she will ever have.
She describes her coping mechanisms, so recognisable to many of us who have suffered the death of a child:-
My coping mechanisms are all about doing stuff and so I planned a part of our garden to dedicate to Willow, buying graph paper and poring over garden design books. We started landscaping in the coldest wettest week in February. We hired a 1.5 tonne digger. Friends and family came to help us in snow and frost, in driving rain.
After being given a memory box in which to place special things to remember Willow, Fiona set out on a journey to meet other mothers who had experienced such a loss as her and the stories of five remarkable women are here. They are:
Val runs the Tigerlily Trust, which provides hospitals with blankets, wraps and gowns for stillborn babies
Rachel runs Gifts of Remembrance, which trains midwives to take photos of stillborn babies
Ruth retrained as a midwife after the stillbirth of her daughter Scarlett. She has just started her first posting, having qualified this summer.
Aliyah Publishing graduate makes bespoke wall prints through her online shop, which help parents celebrate their baby’s name and birth date and is working on a bespoke memory book.
Megan began a popular vlog about stillbirth just weeks after the death of her son Milo
My advice to other parents going through this is let yourself grieve hard. Don’t be afraid of your grief – share it with people. That’s almost precious time before the world sort of expects you to be OK. Let yourself have that time.
To read the full article please click here
SLOW support groups are here for bereaved parents weeks, months or even years after the death of a child. And I know personally for me that in the early days it was so important to understand from others further along how the grief for a lost child evolved.
For more information on our forthcoming groups click here
Jason Watkins appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to talk about Sepsis and the launch of a pocket guide for parents by the UK Sepsis Trust. He also mentioned SLOW and our work helping bereaved parents.
The main thrust though was given to raising awareness of the terrible form of blood poisoning, Sepsis, and the risk it poses to new born babies and toddlers. Jason and his partner lost their two year old daughter Maude to the infection in 2011.
The Department of Health has announced a paediatric toolkit to help healthcare professionals drive down the death rate from the infection. The toolkit was designed by the UK Sepsis Trust who produced the parent’s pocket guide covering the symptoms shown below.
The programme’s site also listed 10 facts about sepsis which we’ve reproduced below. It’s a terrible infection which with more awareness can see the death rate reduced.
- Sepsis is when the body starts to fight an infection, it can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive, damaging the body’s own tissues and organs. Untreated, sepsis leads to multiple organ failure and death.
- Symptoms of sepsis include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, a change in behaviour (confusion, drowsiness or slurring words – patients can appear drunk), hypothermia, diarrhoea, changes in skin colour, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.
- If diagnosed and treated in the first hour following presentation with sepsis, the patient has more than an 80% survival rate. After the sixth hour, the patient only has a 30% survival rate.
- In the UK, its estimated that we see 102,000 cases of severe sepsis every year, with a staggering 37,000 deaths. In comparison, breast cancer claims around 12,000 lives each year.
- Sepsis is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK
- It consumes over a third of our most expensive hospital beds in Intensive Care and costs the NHS around £2.5 billion a year
- Global figures: In the developing world, sepsis kills more than 6 million neonates and children yearly. Every hour, about 1000 people die from sepsis worldwide.
- The UK Sepsis Trust public awareness poll in 2014 found that 40% of the public had heard the word sepsis but of those, only 40% knew it was a medical emergency
- Awareness is the number one cure for sepsis. Raising recognition of the disease and increasing the number of patients treated in the Golden Hour is the single biggest attempt we can make to save lives.
- With public education, better knowledge and awareness among doctors, nurses and paramedics, and by redesigning the way patients with sepsis are treated, we can save 12,500 lives per year in the UK and shave £170 million from the NHS budget
List by Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and frontline NHS Consultant
How do you spot sepsis in a child?
Sepsis symptom card – The UK Sepsis Trust
You can read the article on the Good Morning Britain site and retweet the link also shown above too.
The UK Sepsis Trust are here if you’d like more information and if you are in need of support following the loss of a child to sepsis or any other reason please get in contact with us here.