Treasured items kept by parents who have lost a baby
For Baby Loss Awareness Week, parents have shared images with us of treasured items that they kept after having lost a baby.
Sarah Willbridge-Raisbeck, 36, and Vicki Raisbeck, 35, from Worthing, West Sussex lost their twin daughters
We lost our identical twin girls, Nancy and Nora, shortly after birth due to premature labour at 23 weeks brought on by Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. They died within half an hour of being born. Their keepsake is a patchwork blanket that we made out of all of the clothes we had bought for them. The blanket is currently on a sofa in the room that was their nursery, which they now share with their new baby sister born this week. She is our rainbow baby. It is very important to us that the twins still have a strong presence in that bedroom. The whole family tend to use the blanket if they need some extra comfort, if we are poorly, sad or simply want to feel closer to the girls.
Juliette, 36, from West Midlands, lost her son Benjamin in labour at 42 weeks.
Up until this point, I had thought nothing of stillbirth, and naively assumed that once you fell pregnant you would take a baby home nine months later.
Benjamin died only a few hours before he was born. I laboured for 12 hours, which was the most painful time of my life but also one of the most precious.
When Ben died we received a memory box which had a poem in it about a butterfly, and since then we've thought about Ben as a butterfly. We go to the butterfly farm on his birthday every year.
I've followed a grieving process which ultimately finds me in an acceptance phase. The birth of my two children subsequently has helped to ease my pain, but it is also so bittersweet as they remind me of the milestones he will never reach.
I speak his name every day now - some days it's hard and I cry, some days I smile and remember him. He's as precious as my other two, and always will be. My little butterfly. He gained his wings too soon but I hope he's using them to fly high.
Sarah McManus, 27, from Belfast. Her baby girl Harper was born at 21 weeks and lived for an hour and a half
I keep these fairy jars on the mantelpiece in my living room because I gave Harper the nickname Tinks after Tinkerbell because she was so tiny. The jars light up and have fairies on them. On my low days I turn them on. I'm a big Peter Pan fan and was going to decorate the nursery with the characters. The jars sit next to photos of her and a cast of her hands and feet.
We are lucky that she lived for an hour and half, so we got to make lots of memories with her. I keep her things in a memory box with her blanket and teddy in a drawer in my bedroom. When I'm having my low days I sit down and I take them out. It makes me feel like a mummy. We had two wee teddy bears, one each. Before she was buried I swapped the bears so she has mine with her and I have hers.
It is the only thing that I really have of her. It is strange to describe it, you're a mum but you don't have a baby. It isn't the same as going to the graveyard which makes you feel worse.
Jennifer Patrick, 38, from Skelmorlie, west coast of Scotland. She lost her daughter Jessica at full term
I fell pregnant in October 2012 with our first child, we were really excited. I went into labour four days after my due date. At the hospital a midwife checked the baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes and everything was fine.
In the water birth bath the baby's heart was checked again but all we heard was silence. It took another hour to have it confirmed. We heard those horrific words "I'm sorry but there's no heartbeat".
I don't remember a whole lot after that. I just felt like my world had collapsed. Eventually, after 18 hours I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Jessica, weighing 6lb 12oz, on 1 July 2013. She was perfect with loads of dark hair like her mummy.
We spent another two days in the hospital. They were happy for us to stay as long as we needed but I knew it was only going to get harder. The night we left without our daughter was the hardest thing I have ever been through.
Jessica's auntie coined the term Jessibug and it stuck. So whenever we see anything that has ladybirds on it, it will forever remind us of our girl. I've had loads of people saying whenever they see a ladybug it reminds them of Jess, which is perfect as it will always keep her memory alive.
Suzy Newman, 34, from Essex, whose daughter Tilly was stillborn at 36 weeks
I wear this ring every day. It has my daughter's handprints and footprints engraved on the outside. It's special because I get to hold her in my hand every moment of every single day. My first daughter was born sleeping on Friday 4 October 2013 at 5.38pm. She weighed 5lb 11, had a head full of dark hair and was the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. She was perfect in every way, just asleep. I'd had a trouble-free pregnancy and had a late scan at 32 weeks to check on the position of a fibroid, which turned out to be fine.
That afternoon, however, we learnt that my baby's kidneys hadn't developed properly, that at around 24 weeks they had developed cysts. These cysts had filled with amniotic fluid, which should have been used to help develop the remaining organs during the pregnancy. We saw many specialists, but were ultimately told our baby would not be compatible with life. We made the heart breaking-decision to have a procedure for our baby to be born sleeping. We named her Tilly, which means "strength in battle". She keeps us strong every day. We didn't just lose our baby, we lost our hopes, dreams and innocence.
How to get help
If you need advice or support after experiencing baby loss, there are a number of charities who can help.
- Stillbirth and Neonatal Death (Sands): Call 0207 436 5881 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Child Bereavement UK: Call 0800 02 888 40 or email email@example.com
- The Miscarriage Association: Call 01924 200 799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For a full list of charities visit www.babyloss-awareness.org
Simon Salter, 33 from Belfast lost his daughter at 39 weeks
This is Elefunk. He belongs to me and my wife Alanna, in memory of our daughter Isobel who was stillborn at 39 weeks and two days gestation in June 2015. Elefunk is one of two identical teddies that we made for Isobel in Build a Bear the day before her funeral. One Elefunk is beside our sleeping beauty Isobel, keeping her company. The other Elefunk is for us to hold, a poor substitute for Isobel, but a much loved and squeezed teddy. The reason we chose an elephant to be Isobel's chum is because we decided that elephants are Isobel's favourite animal.
We went to Thailand for our honeymoon where elephants and elephant symbols are everywhere. We spent weeks 10-14 of the pregnancy with Isobel there. We spent a day with a family of elephants in a sanctuary in the jungle. We washed and fed the elephants, and played in a waterfall with the baby elephant. We will always treasure those memories knowing our baby girl was experiencing our happiness too. Elephants will forever remind us of our gorgeous girl and an Elefunk never forgets.
Elizabeth Hutton, 37, from Surrey, lost her son Toby in May 2010, halfway through her pregnancy
The first year after losing Toby was so up in the air for me, I didn't want to make any big decisions. That clouded judgement fed through to the next year, so I didn't get the tattoo until three years after my stillbirth.
It's a puzzle piece designed to look like its cut out of my skin. The clouds represent heaven, and five birds represent the babies I lost to miscarriage.
I chose the tattoo because my living children have created scars and marks - stretch marks or birth scars - and I wanted something to commemorate Toby.
My advice is to allow yourself to feel grief. It hits you out of the blue. I can feel it on the school run, or when I'm walking to the shops. On Toby's anniversary, I don't sit and cry. I don't force myself to feel it when the calendar says I should.
When I lost Toby, I couldn't see any possible way anyone could carry on living. But somehow I did. I've just finished chemotherapy, and when I was diagnosed with cancer it was nothing like being told my son had died. I thought: 'I've dealt with something a lot worse, so I can deal with this.'
Elizabeth runs the charity Kicks Count.