Babyloss Awareness Week is held annually from 9th to 15th October. It gives the opportunity to remember and mark the brief lives of babies lost in pregnancy or soon after birth.
At 7pm local time, 15th October, which is ‘International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day’, people all over the world are asked to light candles, creating a Wave of Light in memory of babies who have died too soon.
A wonderful B31 Voices reader, Yvonne French, tells her story.
I had our beautiful little boy on 8th November 2013 at 21:07 weighing just 3lb 3oz; some 8 weeks early due to Ryan going into distress whilst I was poorly with a chest infection and pneumonia. Ryan was delivered by emergency C-Section by a fantastic team at the BWH, this was just the start of a very emotional & challenging journey for us all.
Ryan was a very poorly little boy due to him having a heart condition which meant one of his aeorta’s (pumps blood from his heart) was very narrow and he also had a hole in his heart and other conditions which had been diagnosed during pregnancy and we knew Ryan would have remedial surgery very soon after birth, but due to him being delivered as an emergency some 8 weeks premature, he was unable to have the surgery as he was too small and the problems that are part of being born premature played their part too so Ryan was unable to have the surgery straight after birth as planned, we had to hope he was strong enough (with NICU staff / Doctors / medicines help) to fight on until he was upto weight and could go for his first set of surgery.
Ryan was immediately taken to the Neonatal Unit ITU without us even having the luxury of seeing him (except as they wheeled him past in his incubator) and we certainly didnt get to touch or hold him. The Neonatal Staff were amazing and fantastic with both Ryan & his daddy (I couldnt visit as I was taken to HDU and could not risk passing my infections onto Ryan) The staff however, did not forget about me, they sent me a picture of Ryan and also a knitted mouse – why a knitted mouse? I was given one and Ryan was given one in his incubator too and after a few days they would be swapped over so we could smell each other and bond that way as we couldnt bond physically, something so small & simple but so efficient done by the staff on the unit.
I was obviously very distressed knowing Ryan was so poorly and I couldnt see him and Ryan was in Neonatal Unit ITU also very poorly fighting for his little life. When Ryan was 4 days old I was able to see him for the 1st time, it was very brief but amazing and speaking to the staff on the Neonatal Unit they felt awful as they didnt like keeping mother and baby apart but they had to ensure Ryan and other babies on the Unit were not exposed to any potential further complications or risks.
After another 3 days, Ryan now 7 days old, he was doing really well, he had been taken off his C-Pap breathing machine and I could have another quick visit, I even got to have my first 5 minute cuddle with him and spoke to the staff looking after him, as always after birth, Ryan lost some of his weight, so the 3kg he had to get to before he could have his surgery was pushed further back, but the staff re-assured us and were great with us, even though obviously Ryan was their patient not us, but the time and compassion they gave and showed us was greatly appreciated.
I was eventually discharged late evening on 18th November so had no restrictions on visiting Ryan, I was delighted to say the least, Ryan was still doing really well, he had been transferred from ITU to High Dependancy within the Neonatal Unit, which was great news and a very positive move. For the first time throughout the turbulant pregnancy and the first week and half of Ryan’s life, I actually began to allow myself to get excited & thought about the future not living for the day by the day.
It was wonderful being able to see Ryan as much as I wanted, although still feeling very weak and on Anti-biotics and pain relief from the c-section, but spent most of the day Tuesday (19th November) with him and getting to know him, having missed out on the last 10 days I was fearful of hurting him as he was so small or pulling out his wires and tubes. Once again the staff were amazing, re-assuring me, guiding me and giving me best advice tips and one of the nurses gave me an amazing memory; Ryan was getting fed via a feeding tube, as the nurse was about to feed him she asked if i wanted to give him the chance to actually taste the milk that he was missing out on as it was going straight to his tummy. she dipped a cotton bud in his milk at let me damp his lips with it, he licked his lips like crazy, not quite the same as feeding him in the convential manner, but it still made me cry (happy tears) and for this gesture and being able to do this has given me one very precious memory and I will be eternally grateful (something so small has given me a lasting memory).
On Wednesday 20th November, we went for a visit and Ryan was not a happy little bunny, he was rather restless and gripey, which I was told by his daddy and the staff that it was unusual as no matter what Ryan had done to him, tubes inserted, blood tests taken he just took it all in his stride and didnt moan or whimper let alone cry, so we gave extra cuddles to which he settled in his daddy’s arms and went to sleep, he woke up, opened his eyes, looked at us as he became ‘graspy’, we called the nurse in who immediately called for help from a passing Doctor, the next few minutes we couldnt tell you where all the staff came from that filled the room, they called for the crash trolley, Ryan was given lots of different injections and was having chest compressions and tubes and wires inserted into his tiny little body, all the staff doing everything they could to save his little life. After 20 minutes, one of the Doctors came over to us and said they had done everything they could but nothing was working, I begged them to keep trying, Ryan was our little miracle you see, upto this pregnancy I had miscarried our past 9 babies, and Ryan was & had fought to stay with us. Ryan was my first born and had survived the whole 7 months of a difficult & turbulant pregnancy, survived me lifting heavy furniture whilst moving before finding out we was expecting him, he survived the tests which can cause miscarriage, he survived long enough to be born via a c-section even though unbeknown to us his heart rate kept dropping seriously and dangerously low, so he couldnt just die he had survived everything, he was making progress, he was starting to put weight on, and everyone said how well he was doing, I couldn’t and wouldn’t just give up on him.
At 20.02 Ryan gave up his hard fight for life and went into an eternal but restful and painfree sleep, he was just 12 days old when he died. Even a small group of the staff who had looked after Ryan the most on a regular basis were so upset they couldnt talk to us initally.
Without all the fantastic staff and equipment within the Neonatal Unit, we would not have the pleasure of having Ryan in our lives for the most amazing 12 days of our lives, I certainly would not have got to hold or cuddle him and as thanking the staff for everything they did for Ryan and us whilst he was alive and after he fell into a very peaceful sleep & gained his angel wings just didnt feel adequate just saying thank you so I have decided to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause and help them get vital equipment to help other babies and parents like they helped Ryan and us during his very short but precious life.
You can donate money for the Tiny Babies Big Appeal for the Neonatal Unit at Birmingham Womens Hospital on Yvonne’s Page HERE.
For little Ryan and all the other beautiful little lives lost, you are forever loved and always remembered.
If you have been affected by the loss of a baby, you can contact Sands for advice and support.