A heartbroken couple whose baby boy was stillborn have told how they talk about him every day. They have now set up a charity to help other parents who babies are stillborn.
Becky Wykes and her partner Matt Buckley had been overjoyed when they found out they were expecting a second little boy, who they named Jacob. Already parents to Charlie, now four, the pair went through a difficult pregnancy but say they could never could have imagined the devastation that was to come.
Becky, 26, who works at Tesco in Ashby, said: "I have a blood disorder so I was always at the hospital seeing my consultant. When I found out I was pregnant with Charlie I spent a lot of time treading on eggshells because of my condition but the pregnancy was perfect with no worries whatsoever.
"Because of that I was a lot more relaxed in my second pregnancy and I felt comfortable throughout with Jacob, saying that whatever I didn’t have with Charlie, I had with Jacob; morning sickness, the works.
"The doctors were also a little bit concerned about his growth but the day before his last scan his growth had picked up so we were pleased."
Becky said her son’s tragic death was no-one fault and there was nothing more that could have been done to save him.
She said: "My placenta abrupted and what happened next was all very sudden. I was rushed for an emergency Caesarean because Jacob’s heart rate was dipping. Next thing I knew the doctors were telling me, 'I am really sorry he has already gone.' Our little boy had died at 30 weeks.
Heartbreakingly Becky had to give birth to Jacob naturally at the Royal Derby Hospital.
She said: "There was a bereavement midwife appointed straight away who was there if we needed her and the staff were brilliant, by my side the whole time. They could not have done any more.
"There are no words to express how hard it was. It is something that you never ever think is going to you."
Despite their heartache, the couple were given amazing support by the hospital staff and got to spent precious time with Jacob, they said. They used a cuddle cot, which allow bereaved parents to spend time with their child. Cuddle cots are refrigerated incubators which stillborn babies can be placed in allowing parents to have precious time with their child before a funeral.
Becky said: "We never thought it was possible but we were able to treat him like a newborn. We gave him a bath, dressed him, had a cuddle cot and put him in his Moses basket. We took him for a walk in his pushchair and arranged a photoshoot of the four of us.
"That time meant everything to us and it was so important for Charlie too. He was only three at the time but he knows he is a big brother."
The pair set up a JustGiving page for the nurses and doctors at the Royal Derby Hospital soon after Jacob died in the hope of offering a little thank you for their support. After leaving the staff overjoyed with their generosity, the pair "got the bug" and their charity ‘Jacob’s Star’ was set up.
Becky said: "Just after Christmas the hospital emailed us and said they had run out of blankets for premature babies so we went along to the wholesaler and bought 150 blankets to take back to the unit. The staff were overjoyed and we decided then to raise money for whatever the hospital needs.
"Sometimes it is a matter of taking tea and coffee into the ward once a month. Anything to help them out because they work really long hours and have a difficult job.
"Jacob’s Star is about raising as much money and awareness as possible about stillbirth and baby loss.
"It is the sort of thing you only know about when you have to go through it. There is a lot of awareness about premature babies because nine times out of ten they come out fighting, bless them, but there are no words when you lose a son or daughter that you don’t have the chance to make many memories with.
"There is a taboo. We know only too well that people find it difficult to talk about and after we lost Jacob, people would cross the road because they didn’t know what to say, which was really frustrating and upsetting for us.
"We didn’t want sympathy. We just want to remember him and talk about him."
Becky said she will always be mum to "two little boys" and it was Charlie who kept her looking ahead when times got tough.
She said: "I did struggle with grief because I sometimes found it difficult to get the answers I needed. There were little things that I was thinking about but I felt a bit silly to ask Sands because it is such a big organisation. When I started Jacob’s Star I passed my feedback on to Sands who welcomed it.
"I didn’t know if it was normal to still be crying your eyes out after a month. I missed Jacob’s kicks and his movements. I missed feeling close to him but me and Matt still have two little boys and Jacob is very much a part of our everyday lives.
"Charlie has asked awkward questions but we are very open to him because he went through it too. He talks about Jacob every day bless him.
"It was Charlie who kept us going from the second we got out of the hospital. He gave us a sense of purpose. We had been there, done that and come out of the other side still fighting."
For Matt, 30, the charity was a great opportunity to help other dads who he feels can sometimes be forgotten.
Matt, who is a deputy manager at a care home, said: "I am very keen that dads of stillborns know there is support out there for them as much as for mum.
"Dads often get forgotten about and at Jacob’s Star, although we are not trained bereavement counsellors, we are able to signpost to available services that can help.
"We are currently supporting the Derby baby unit and hope in time we can support Burton as well. We will continue to buy items for the babies, their families and the staff that use the unit and we have bigger plans in the pipeline for when the charity is more established.
"I just want people to know that we are here and even though we are only small, we will listen and do whatever we can to help mums, dads, grandparents and all family and friends to come to terms with their loss.
"Jacob’s Star has only just begun but the support we have received has been amazing and we just want to say a big thank you to everyone that has helped us so far."
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