When my partner found out she was pregnant, I knew our baby would impact my life, but I had no idea how big a mark our little boy would make in such a short space of time.
At 35 weeks pregnant, we were full of joy preparing for parenthood, but then, unexpectedly, my partner suffered severe blood loss and we raced to the hospital. A dedicated midwife then broke the devastating news that our son’s heart had stopped. Nothing had prepared us for that moment.
A few hours later John-Ian was stillborn. The midwife asked if I’d like to cut the cord which I duly did and I held him as all new fathers do. The connection was instantaneous. It was from this moment that I began a remarkable journey of learning that allowed me to connect with my son and understand the gift he gave me.
We were lucky enough to be at an enlightened hospital that provided us with privacy and compassion for all those special ‘firsts’ – something I will never forget. We were given a room, a safe space with our son, for 48 hours, where I will always remember reading his first bedtime story, giving him a bath and even watching an episode of Star Trek together. These early moments gave me such important memories with John-Ian that not all parents receive, but will certainly stay with me forever.
The next stage of my journey was to meet family and friends. Some had no idea what to say – they were experiencing shock too. However, it was through support networks provided by Sands that I met couples who had also lost babies. With them, we spoke our babies’ names – something very important to me – and went on to create invaluable, life-long friendships.
When it came time to finally say goodbye to John-Ian and lay him to rest, I remember giving him a very quick cuddle and passing him to his mother so she had a little longer with him. I’ll never regret that, but I do wish I held on just for one minute longer.
Now, I have Baby Loss Awareness Week, a very special week for me. Every year between the 9th and 15th October a number of pregnancy and baby loss charities come together to recognise the brief lives of babies lost in pregnancy, or during or shortly after birth. For me, it’s a time when I remember my amazing little boy who passed away before he had the chance to live. I’ll never forget him but remembering John-Ian in the right way has helped me move on.
John-Ian formed a big part of who I am but he also gave me so much in such a short period of time.