As part of baby loss awareness week 2018 I have been so lucky to have some really inspirational families willing to share their stories of loss and parenting having been blessed to go on to have their rainbow babies.

The next story I am sharing this week is from Claire, here is her story…

 

Jackson will always be my forever baby, the one who made me a mum. My first born.

My name is Claire Maxwell, I work for a very popular and very busy health and beauty retailer and I also volunteer for Blackpool and Preston Sands group (the stillbirth and neonatal deaths charity) as Chair and Befriender. I married my wonderful husband Krishna in 2004, after eight years together, and we now have our beautiful boy, William.

In 2010, after a few months of trying, we found out that we were expecting our first baby. At a scan we found out that he was poorly….very poorly.  After exhaustive testing, traveling to different hospitals, begging for doctors to help him.  We were told that our baby was incompatible with life.  That the choice was ours, but even if he were to be born alive, there would be no attempt to keep him alive or try to save him.  I could carry on with the pregnancy but I ran the risk of having a destructive C-Section. I looked in to what this was and decided I wasn’t putting my boy through that. What they may have to do to him to get him out…nope. But he would more than likely die before I got to full term.  One doctor told us that we had more chance winning the lottery than this happening….yeah, thanks for that one! He had a condition called Ventriculomegaly, this is where the ventricles in the brain are too dilated.  There are different types. However, his ventricles were so bad that they took up all his brain, he had no brain tissue.

I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was to make the decision to let him go, to end his suffering and start a lifetime of suffering for us. Even harder, to sit staring at the tablet I had to take that would start the end of his life.

I went into labour on Saturday morning, Jackson was born on Monday 12th September 2010 at 2.40am.  His heart still beating, I looked at the midwife straight into her eyes as I was scared to look at Jackson. She told me to take him, its ok she said, he’s beautiful, take him.  And I did. My mum and Krishna were with me when I gave birth to him and we were all together when his little heart stopped beating a few minutes later, whilst in my arms, which I believe he waited for.

If you are reading this and you have experienced the loss of a baby I’m pretty sure you have an idea of what it’s like to leave that hospital without a baby.  Your body knowing you’ve had a baby and behaving as such. What I really remember is the heaviness I felt in my arms. I needed my baby, how the hell do I survive this. I hurt like I never had done before. I wanted to be with my baby.

In the following months I had flash backs of the birth, of him, his funeral.  I visited his grave every day. Ten months in and I found Sands, my life line.  Sure, I had a very supportive family and my friends, who are precious to me, but to be with people who really got it, for me, was life changing.

In 2011 we suffered an early miscarriage, I didn’t have time to process it as we only found out two days before, but this was yet another blow to our family.

In 2012, after what felt like years, we were pregnant again.  Something we were trying for and desperately wanted, a positive test and I’m so happy. Five minutes later sheer panic set in and that was pretty much what the whole pregnancy was like for me…..panic. In and out of hospital every five minutes, I must have been a nightmare.

I got through it with the help of my family, friends and of course, my Sands family.  William was born into this world a very healthy 7.12lbs and a fab set of lungs on him. He was checked very carefully, bundled up and placed into my arms. He was perfect. I felt absolutely nothing! No rush of love, no tears, just guilt over Jackson. Again, I wondered what was wrong with me. The answer of course, is nothing.  This was normal, no one told me that then, but I now know that these feelings are normal. I loved him, I knew that, but I felt like he wasn’t mine. Again with the help of my Sands family, their support and understanding, I started to find myself again and thank goodness that rush of love came, but it was a good while after.

William is now five, and I love him more than anything in the world, He is ace.  I think I naively thought having another baby would heal me. And it has a little, but there will always be this massive void.  I think of how they would both be together all the time. But mostly I think of Jackson as a baby.

As I sit amongst families in my Sands group and listen to the conversation they have about how they think of their children now, what they would be doing and what would they look like.  I don’t feel like that, a feeling that shocked me. So far all our other feelings and thoughts had been so similar. What’s wrong with me?  The answer is nothing, nothing at all. I just don’t feel like that and I’m not afraid to say so, in fact I’m not afraid to say anything in our Sands group, that’s just how we are.

I have always thought of Jackson as a baby, I’ve never thought of him as growing up or what he would look like, until September 2015, the month he would have turned five. Birthdays were always hard but we always celebrate them. This year I felt really blue, so down, always crying and found myself suffering quite a bit. I couldn’t figure out why?  I always felt bad of course, but why was I feeling so, so bad? It took ages for me to figure it out, but the reason was this was also the year he would have started school.

I still have days where I cry, but I am happy, something I thought would never happen again.

We talk about Jackson a lot.  He is a massive part of our lives.  William talks about his brother at school and what I love is that they encourage it and allow William to talk about him. He tells people that ‘mummy helps people whose babies have died’. He’s not scared of it, and asks a lot of questions, when he is older I will tell him more about Jackson. We all celebrated Jackson’s eighth birthday last month and like last year we got a cake, candles and all sang happy birthday and William blew out his candles.

I’m so proud to part of Sands, my Sands family, who are all amazing people, who will be my friends for life.  To be able to offer hope to a family, to listen to them and offer reassurance and comfort, is something I wouldn’t be able to do without Sands, Jackson or William. Because of you, I learn something new every day xx

If you have connected with this story and you would like some support yourself, you can follow me, Helen Grimshaw, on social media by clicking the links below
If you are planning your rainbow pregnancy, are already pregnant or have your baby here safe, you are welcome to join my closed Facebook group, by clicking the image below. A warm welcome awaits.

Please click the image to link to the Sands website for further information and support.