As part of Sands 40th anniversary this year, we will share 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby. Starting during Sands Awareness Month and our #FindingTheWords campaign, we aim to show the sheer number of people who are affected by the tragedy of a baby’s death, help other bereaved parents to understand they are not alone and raise awareness of the issues surrounding stillbirth and neonatal death. Visit our 40 stories for #Sands40 to view other blogs in the series.
This year will be 28 years since my daughter Jade, my firstborn, gained her wings.
She was born an angel on 5th November 1990 when I was 36 and a half weeks pregnant.
Many things have happened and changed in the past three decades, but the emptiness left where the part of my soul left still resounds so deeply inside me every day.
I can never forget the moment the doctor told me you were gone, I still have recurring visions and dreams, nightmares really, about that moment. In my memory everything was white, the walls in the hospital, the sheets and the doctor’s coat.
The only thing I remember not being white was the doctor’s own clothing peaking from under his lab coat. The words he whispered to me: “I’m sorry but your baby has died” forever echo in my mind.
Due to all the drugs I only vaguely remember holding my little girl, she had a mass of dark hair and beautifully shaped cherry lips.
I never got to see her with her eyes open but I imagined them to be blue. She had the most glorious peachy skin complexion and I recall thinking she looked just like a beautiful angel.
Jade’s father, my fiancée, had left when I was six months pregnant and I coped with his leaving by telling myself that my baby and I would have each other.
When just under three months later Jade left too I felt empty, I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole, I wanted to leave too and join that staircase to heaven and be with my little girl forever.
I felt I had no one. People I had known all my life would avoid me for fear of saying the wrong thing. Had it not have been for my mum and the support of my family and dearest friend, I do believe I would have taken that staircase.
Today I have two more beautiful daughters and four grandchildren and I feel so blessed, they all know about Jade but I had never told them the full story and haven't celebrated bonfire night, 5th November for many years.
When my girls were younger they didn’t understand and I would just say I didn’t like bonfires and fireworks, but now that they are older they understand.
This year I decided that it was time to face the trauma and wrote the story for my daughters so they would truly understand my blinding love for both Jade and them too. They cried helplessly at the book as did I whilst writing, but putting my feelings into words and pen to paper has been both difficult and therapeutic.
Whilst I know there will always remain a part of me that left with Jade, what is left with me I have now passed to my daughters so that they will continue to remember and remind generations to come that she was here and born an angel.
Picture: Deborah Phillips' daughter, Jade.
15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. We want to reduce this number, but we need your help. Support Sands now to help ensure a bereaved parent doesn't have to cope alone. Thank you.