Aafter a storm comes a beautiful and bright rainbow signifying hope and of things getting better.
Gazing fondly at her daughter Shayla-Jade, Kayleigh Ferrie is overwhelmed with love for her “rainbow baby” – but will never forget her son Ben who she lost at 34 weeks of pregnancy after her placenta ruptured.
A “rainbow baby” is the term for a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.
“The rainbow is appreciated even more having experienced the storm.
Kayleigh, 30, who lives in Kirkham and is married to Chris, explains: “A rainbow follows a storm.
“That’s not to say the storm didn’t happen and it wasn’t terrible, but the rainbow is something beautiful that comes after it.
I could not completely fall apart as I had two other children who still needed me
Kayleigh and husband Chris, a head chef at the St Ives Hotel in St Annes, who also have daughter Jessie, nine and son Brian, seven, were thrilled when they discovered Kayleigh was pregnant with their third child.
Like with her previous babies, Kayleigh had a smooth pregnancy and she had actually asked to have a home birth with Ben.
However, when Kayleigh was 34 weeks and one day into her pregnancy, she suddenly woke up at 3am with a severe pain in her stomach.
Kayleigh recalls: “Ben was quite an active baby so I assumed he had just kicked me hard. The pain eased after a while so I went back to sleep.”
However, when Kayleigh got up at 8am, she began getting regular pains so thinking they were contractions, she rang the delivery suite.
Kayleigh went to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with her sister-in-law and midwives could not find her baby’s heartbeat.
Kayleigh remembers: “I began getting very concerned as we had suffered a previous loss between Jessie and Brian at seven weeks. My sister-in-law rang Chris to get to the hospital and I was given a scan to confirm what they suspected.
“The sonographer was very sympathetic and heartbreakingly, the scan confirmed Ben had died.”
Kayleigh gave birth to Ben in the hospital’s Oasis suite which was a separate soundproofed room to the delivery suite.
Kayleigh says: “The midwife Many was wonderful and I could have anyone I wanted in the room with me.
“I was on a lot of morphine and that helped with the pain.
“Ben was born on April 15 2014. Ben looked just like Jessie and Brian when they were babies and I loved him instantly.
“He just looked like he was sleeping.”
Ben was placed in a cold cot so his parents could spend as long as they wanted with him.
Kayleigh remembers the hospital as being the worst moment.
She explains: “It was awful after having gone through all that pain to be leaving with no baby in my arms.
“It is like a piece of you has gone and you feel so empty.
“We were also heartbroken at the thought of leaving Ben there on his own.
“The pain we felt was gut wrenching. Instead of enjoying time with your new baby, you are suddenly planning a funeral.”
Kayleigh says the support they received from Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s bereavement nurse Megan Murray and the emotional support of friends and family is what got them through that traumatic time.
She says: “I could not completely fall apart as I had two other children who still needed me.
“Chris was very upset and deeply affected by it too. Chris was in the Army so used to being practical. But losing Ben changed that and he found it difficult.
“We were once in a supermarket and saw a baby who was the same age as Ben would have been and it really hit Chris hard and he hastily wiped away some tears. I was just an emotional wreck and there were a lot of tears.”
Kayleigh and Chris were concerned about what had caused them to lose Ben and if it would affect future pregnancies. Doctors told the couple they think Kayleigh’s placenta ruptured and because of where it ruptured, it led to Ben not getting any oxygen to him.
They were told it should not affect future pregancies as it was an unfortunate tragedy.
It was on Christmas Eve 2014 that Kayleigh and Chris discovered she was pregnant with Shayla-Jade and Kayleigh recalls it was a very bittersweet moment.
She says: “While we were over the moon, we were also full of worry and fear of the same thing happening again.”
However, Kayleigh and Chris’s fears were allayed thanks to the support of the hospital who closely monitored Kayleigh throughout the pregnancy and gave her regular scans.
Kayleigh told the hospital she didn’t want to have a scan in the room where she was told she had lost Ben and hospital staff ensured this didn’t happen for any of her scans.
Kayleigh recalls: “If it wasn’t for them and their amazing support, I think I would have cracked up.”
Kayleigh remembers feeling particularly anxious around the 34 week stage of pregnancy and she was induced at 37 weeks as she did not feel she could cope mentally any longer.
Shayla-Jade was born on August 17 2015 and Kayleigh recalls they were in shock for a while that they were actually taking a baby home this time. Shayla-Jade is now one and Kayleigh and Chris adore all their children and say Ben is still very much a part of their family and they talk about him and visit his grave regularly.
They have plaster casts of Ben’s feet and his footprints in a frame in their hallway and each of their children have teddies which were bought for them which they call their “Ben Teddies”.
Kayleigh says: “It is truly heartbreaking when you lose a baby and unfortunately you do find out who your real friends are and who is there for you.”
Kayleigh got in touch with the Sands - the stillbirth and neonatal death charity and says their support was invaluable.
Kayleigh says: “Organisations like Sands are worth their weight in gold as they know exactly what you are going through.
“I received a lot of support from Blackpool and Preston Sands.
“Not long after I lost Ben, we went to a balloon release on St Annes beach.
“It was emotional but also lovely to see all these balloons with messages on for babies like Ben.”
Comedy night to raise funds and awareness
Blackpool and Preston Sands, part of Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity’s network of support groups, is hosting a comedy night to raise funds and awareness.
The comedy night will take place on Saturday October 1 at 6.30pm at The Carousel Hotel, Blackpool.
There will be a welcome drink, a hot buffet, an evening of entertainment with a line-up of comedians, singers and a DJ. There will also be a raffle and auction.
Thousands of babies tragically die each year. In 2014, more than 5,500 babies were stillborn or died soon after birth in the UK shattering the lives of expectant parents and their families.
It is hoped the charity comedy night will raise awareness of the support available to bereaved families in the local area. The group is solely run by volunteers so funds raised will help it continue its vital work supporting families through monthly meetings, telephone and e-mail and working with their local hospital to improve bereavement care facilities and fund Sands bereavement care training.
Helen Grimshaw, chairman of Blackpool and Preston Sands, says: “Having been chairman of the group for nearly four years, I decided it was time I organised an event in memory of all our babies so we could all come together and remember them, raise lots of money and have a good time doing so. I lost my own daughter Daisy seven years ago this year. The pain is easier to manage but it never goes away.
“I could not have survived without this group and I want to make sure the group continues to be able to offer monthly meetings in the Preston area as well as Blackpool.”
One of the comedians performing on the night is Matt Davenport and his partner Vicky Ross, a singer, will also be performing.
The couple, who live in South Shore, found out they had lost their unborn son at their 20 week scan on Christmas Eve 2013.
Matt, 32, who is a retail manager in Preston, as well as a stand up comedian, says: “We found out we had lost our unborn son on Christmas Eve at our 20 week scan and we still had to go through labour and birth on Boxing Day.
“Our baby boy was born on December 27 2013 and we named him Star.
“It was a difficult time for us and our family. We tried to get back to normality and we went on holiday to Turkey in June 2014.
“The day after we got back, Vicky found out she was pregnant.
“Our daughter Luna is now 18 months old. Luna is amazing and brings joy to all of our family.
“She is such a little character and enjoys singing and dancing - which she must get off her mum - and she doesn’t half make us laugh - which she must get from me!
“However, not a day goes by when we don’t think about our little Star.
“As soon as we found out about this Sands charity night, I knew I wanted to be involved. After speaking with Vicky, who was a singer in various Motown and tribute bands, she felt it was only right that she dusted off the microphone too.
“To be part of this night to help raise money, provide support and increase awareness for this charity means an awful lot to us both.”
Helen Grimshaw adds: “It was purely by chance that Matt and I came across each other on social media. He asked if he could have a stand up slot and explained he had also suffered the loss of his son.
“Matt and his partner Vicky have been so supportive arranging some great raffle and auction prizes and saving the day with music for the whole family. It never ceases to amaze me how generous people are. It just shows what an amazing community we have.”
n For more details about the event or to donate a raffle or auction prize, contact Blackpool and Preston Sands on 07938 977676. Tickets are priced at £35. More information about Blackpool and Preston Sands can be found at: https://blackpoolprestonsands.wordpress.com/