Tayside and Central Scotland

'She will always be my daughter' - a Father's Day letter to Jessica

Andrew Suttie Image copyright Chas

It was Father's Day 2016 when Jaclyn Suttie told husband Andrew he was going to become a dad.

The Broughty Ferry couple were overjoyed. A month later there was further cause for celebration.

"We found out it was going to be twins," Andrew said. "So we were obviously delighted with that as well."

With preparations for the new arrivals under way, scans revealed that one of the babies, known then as Twin Two, was smaller than her sister.

Image copyright Suttie family
Image caption Andrew said Jessica had a "beautiful smile"

Andrew told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "At 30 weeks they said Twin Two is really quite a bit smaller, so we were really quite worried about that.

"Then at 32 weeks the girls were born by C-section."

Both twins required specialist care in Ninewells Hospital's neonatal unit, with Jessica, who was born weighing just 2lb 11oz, spending three months in the hospital.

A week after Jessica was discharged from hospital, Andrew and Jaclyn received devastating news.

Jessica had Zellweger Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder with no cure, and would probably not survive a year.

Image caption Both girls required specialist care in Ninewells Hospital

"That was just catastrophic," Andrew said. "Zellweger Syndrome is a horrible syndrome.

"There's very little they can do to help other than keep the child comfortable and keep them growing.

"To find out at that stage that your child is not going to live to their first birthday and all the hopes you had for that child are just absolutely shattered.

"It was just devastating, it was awful."

Image copyright Chas
Image caption The family were accepted to receive care at Rachel House, one of the charity's hospices

Shattered by the news, Andrew began researching support groups, and asked if the family could be referred to the charity Children's Hospices Across Scotland, better known as Chas.

Chas provides hospice services for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

It offers palliative, respite and end-of-life care from Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.

Image copyright Suttie family

Andrew said: "They accepted us to go to Rachel House. It's a children's hospice, but you would never know that.

"It's like a five-star hotel, but with everybody there in the same situation as you are and all the staff are used to dealing with it as well."

Andrew found that meeting other fathers dealing with their own children's situations allowed him to open up about his own.

He said: "There are other dads who are in exactly the same boat.

"Like most Scottish males they don't express their emotions, so it was good to be able to talk quite openly with them about how you were feeling."

Image caption Andrew and Jaclyn "always speak about Jessica" to her sister Georgia

One night in September 2017 Andrew and Jaclyn returned to Rachel House, after enjoying a meal out together.

But something was wrong.

Andrew said: "Georgia and Jessica had been sharing a room together, having a wee babble away to each other.

"Jaclyn knew that something wasn't right with Jessica and then she just stopped breathing.

"It really was out-of-the blue although you know to expect it. It came as such a shock."

Jessica was eight months old.

Image copyright Chas
Image caption Andrew has written a Father's Day message to Jessica

Chas have launched a new appeal to support bereaved fathers and Andrew is one of those who have contributed a Father's Day message written to their daughters.

He said that if any friends are apprehensive of speaking about Jessica, they needn't worry.

Andrew said: "I love speaking about her.

"Right from the start with Georgia we always speak about Jessica.

"She had a beautiful smile, and her relationship with Georgia, they loved each other. They definitely knew they were sisters.

"She was my daughter and she always will be my daughter."

Image copyright Suttie family

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