Essex

'Remember our babies in Christmas cards'

Laura Jones and her family Image copyright Laura Jones
Image caption Laura Jones says including her stillborn son's name brings comfort to her other children

A mother who lost her baby has backed a charity's plea to friends of grieving parents not to forget their children in Christmas cards.

Laura Jones, 36, from Llanelli, gave birth to her "treasured" stillborn son Hudson in November at 19 weeks.

Seeing his name in cards helped her other children and "acknowledges the little life that was", she said.

Essex charity Aching Arms said the gesture could be "heartwarming" at a difficult time of year.

The organisation, based in Brentwood, sends thousands of teddy bears to grieving families across the UK, both as comforters and to signpost help.

"Not many of my family and friends mention James at Christmas," said founder Leanne Turner, who lost her son at 23 weeks in 2009.

"Including their names is an acknowledgement that these babies aren't a secret that shouldn't be spoken about."

Image copyright Leanne Turner
Image caption Aching Arms founder Leanne Turner says acknowledgement is key to helping parents grieve

Some parents said they preferred a symbol or an extra kiss as a reminder of their baby, instead of their name.

Ms Turner said while many families loved to hear their babies mentioned, the charity realised some parents would want their loss to remain very private.

"We each have to find our own way to cope, and that is exactly as it should be," she said.

Image copyright Jade Merifield
Image caption Jade Merifield says she always signs her son's name on cards and gifts

Jade Merifield, 28, of Hillingdon, west London, was heading to hospital to be induced in September 2018 when complications cut off oxygen to her baby.

Her son Arlo was stillborn 15 hours later.

"Personally I feel that Arlo was alive for nine months, so he should be included as he would be if he was here," she said.

"I get quite insulted when he isn't."

Image copyright Kirsty Schwegmann
Image caption Kirsty Schwegmann says seeing her stillborn daughter's name on a card would fill her with joy

In January, Kirsty Schwegmann, who was 22 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, went for a routine scan.

Instead, the 42-year-old from Farnborough in Hampshire found out her daughter Naya had died.

"She will always be in our Christmas cards and everything we do," said Mrs Schwegmann, now a volunteer for Aching Arms.

"It's helped my children. They find it really comforting knowing she's part of everything."

Image copyright Kirsty Schwegmann
Image caption Kirsty Schwegmann said receiving a card with her daughter's name on it made her "happy"

She said seeing a card with her daughter's name on it could change her day.

"People think that when you mention their name you're going to get upset but it's the opposite.

"It makes me happy."

Image copyright Kirsty Schwegmann
Image caption A stocking for Naya will be alongside those for her three other children

Miss Jones, who is preparing for her first Christmas since losing her sixth child, said she would be donating to charity instead of sending cards.

"It's still raw. I don't ever want to stop talking about him," she said.

"Even though he never got to grow up, he existed. He's as much a part of my family as my other children."

Image copyright Laura Jones
Image caption Laura Jones shortly after giving birth to her stillborn son Hudson

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