Today, we wrote thank you cards for the midwives and care teams that looked after us in hospital. Since the day we found out that Leo had died, I have not been able to find the words to adequately describe the level of care we received from the teams at our local hospital. They really are an advert for their profession. Hopefully, this post can explain why we are so thankful, but also why we wish to support the organisations that helped us.
Ashfield Fund, John Radcliffe Hospital
Our local hospital has a specialist team and ward for Bereavement. You don’t ever think about the need for such a specialism until you are it. The hospital has two bereavement suites which means that N could stay with me. We were cocooned in that room, it became our safety net. The rooms and facilities are funded by the Ashfield Fund – a fund that N will be running for, in May. On the Saturday, when we were admitted back to begin the process of inducing labour, there were five admissions in total and the suites were already occupied. Five admissions. In one hospital, on one day. We realised at that point, we sadly were not the only ones living this and needing these facilities.
As a result we were in a side room before our induction began, and for a short period once discharged from Delivery Suite. The side room was perfectly adequate, we had an ensuite and it enabled us to not be on a normal maternity ward – something I know others have had to experience following a loss. However a side room had no room for N to stay with me, nor would it had been easy for our families to visit. Having the suite was priceless – we could be together, with Leo and create memories. Our families could join us, and have time with Leo, without the usual visiting restrictions. Those few days will never be forgotten and we are so very thankful that we had them. For me, as I was planning on spending my maternity leave collecting thousands of pictures of my little baby boy, being able to spend time to take the photos that I wanted of Leo, is something that I will be forever grateful of. I cherish those photos, have them with me all the time, and will forever look through them.
The ward also had cold cots. Again, something you never even consider until you need it. Quite soon after birth, Leo had a cold cot. Quite like a mini water bed, keeping his environment at a steady 6 degrees. Our motherly instincts kicked in straight away and we fully understood the need to keep him cold. It meant we could have longer with him – we became a little obsessed with making sure he didn’t get too hot, and although we didn’t have to, we made sure he spent the nights in his ‘cold room’ for his benefit, and ours.
I can’t really imagine that these facilities are the top priority for maternity services in the NHS budget, so the funding from the Ashfield Fund is no doubt vital to ensure families get to spend time with their sleeping babies, whilst being well cared for by the exceptional teams.
To support the Ashfield Fund, sponsor N on the Reading 10km: https://www.justgiving.com/greenpark10km
SANDS, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity
We quickly also became aware of the charity, SANDS. We can’t really remember if we had heard of them before, but we will now never forget them. There are lots of national and smaller, locally run organisations and charities that do equal work in not only the prevention of stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death, but also in supporting the families affected (MAMA academy, Tommys, Kicks Count to name a few) but it was SANDS that supported us and our local hospital.
The support from SANDS came instantly, with an abundance of information to take away from the hospital on the day we discovered that Leo had died. This information was so useful to us and our family on the day before we went back into the hospital – that day was literally a day of waiting for the time to pass, whilst staring at the floor. Had it not been for the information packs, I don’t think we would have been as prepared for the next few days or weeks quite as well. Information doesn’t really go in the first, second or third time you read it when you are in shock, but it’s there and available and that’s what’s key. You can see the information packs that we received and the range of topics that you suddenly learn about on their website: www.uk-sands.org
Our most priced possession, second to our hard drive full of hundreds of pictures of Leo, is our SANDS Memory Box. The team at the hospital are provided with resources to give families pictures of their babies, handprints and footprints, clay casts of hands and feet, locks of hair, a hand knitted blanket, teddies (one for us, and one for him), a candle, and other little mementos. To have something physical of Leo’s like this is incredible. To be able to see the creases in his feet, and the softness of his hair… Well, it just makes this whole process that little bit easier, and if we didn’t have this, I can guarantee we’d be finding the beginnings of grief a lot harder, and I’m sure the years ahead wouldn’t be as easy either.
To support SANDS, donate to Leo’s Legacy: www.justgiving.com/LeoPhoenix
Midwives and Care Teams
Most importantly though, the teams were so caring and loving towards us and Leo that we will never forget them and the impact that they had on us during this time. Both the delivery suite team, and the bereavement suite team will forever have a place in our thank yous.
They understood our humour (we have managed to keep hold of it somehow), enabled us to create memories, they were sympathetic, caring, patient and importantly, honest. They prepared us to meet our little boy, and helped us in feeling confident in looking after him for the few days that we had. They spoke to Leo and about him no differently, and cared for him with so much love that I soon discovered how important it was to me for people to acknowledge Leo, even in his death, as a person who has touched this world and the lives of many.