A Whitby couple left devastated by the loss of their premature baby girl have spoken of their grief – and are backing a £120,000 appeal to help parents of stillborn children.
The appeal aims to create a new suite at Scarborough Hospital labour ward for parents facing the same tragedy.
Whitby’s Homebase, The Plough at Sleights and a family fun day at Whitby Rugby Club are helping to reach the target.
“Please cry, please cry,” pleaded devastated parents Graham and Carolyn Sparks, to their tiny baby girl for the five hours they were able to spend with her. They uttered the words to Mia Faith, born prematurely at 29 weeks and two days, over and over again. But, Mia, who weighed just two pounds, wasn’t going to wake up and she wasn’t going to cry.
While most other families were excitedly preparing for Christmas, the couple of Northway in Whitby, were to spend three days on the maternity ward at Scarborough Hospital waiting for Carolyn (33) to give birth to their baby girl who they knew had already died.
She was in labour for 17 and a half hours and could hear mums giving birth in the next room and then the cries of their newborn babies.
Carolyn said: “It was a 17 and a half hour labour and knowing there was going to be nothing at the end of it was heartbreaking. I wasn’t going to have any of that.
“When she came out she was completely perfect, there was nothing wrong with her. For those five hours we were just thinking please cry, please cry.”
Now they are channelling their devastation into helping other families who tragically find themselves in the same situation.
They wanted to tell their story to encourage people to talk about what is still considered a taboo subject and raise awareness of still births and research into what causes them.
Carolyn had had a routine scan on the Thursday before Christmas and everything was fine, yet within two days they had been given the devastating news that their baby had died.
She said: “The Friday was the last time that I felt her move. On the Saturday I didn’t feel her move and at first I thought nothing of it but then alarm bells started ringing. I thought something was wrong - I knew, I just knew.
“I didn’t sleep on the Saturday night and on the Sunday we phoned the hospital. They just knew and were waiting for us.”
Despite days earlier Carolyn having had a normal scan, tests revealed she had severe pre-eclampsia which affects the oxygen supply between mother and baby.
Husband Graham said: “We were thinking why us, should we have gone to hospital earlier. But it can happen like that, they don’t know why and there is no medical evidence as to why it happens.
“We would like to raise awareness and for people to talk about it. I am really lucky, because where I work everybody will talk to me about it. When I first went back to work, they didn’t know what to say so I started talking about it to break the ice.
“I have had a few situations where people have said your little girl must be due now and the tears start and you have to explain.”
Carolyn added: “We talk about her every day and if people ask how many kids do you have, we say ‘we are a family of four, but unfortunately we have lost one’.
“She is part of our family and Keiron knows he had a little sister. Her room is exactly how it was, all her clothes are in her wardrobe and the cot is set up. We can’t bring ourselves to do anything at the moment.
“But what keeps us going is hoping to raise money for the Snowdrop Appeal. It was a horrible feeling coming out of the hospital and seeing new parents with their babies. We felt we had got nothing.”