A COUPLE who lost their baby son 38 weeks into the pregnancy have launched a campaign to help other parents affected by similar tragedies.
Spencer Davis and Rachael Marsden found out baby Thomas Edward’s heart had stopped in the final few weeks of Rachael’s pregnancy, in March this year.
Thomas, their second son, was delivered stillborn at the Sharoe Green maternity unit in Royal Preston Hospital, on March 17. Their heartache was compounded when Rachael had to endure hearing other families’ joy, with the sound of newborn babies’ cries filtering through to her room from other parts of the ward.
Now the couple have launched the Little Ted’s Room appeal as a lasting legacy of Thomas Edward, in a bid to raise £25,000 to fund the soundproofing of two rooms on the maternity unit.
Spencer, from Euxton, said: “Nothing we can do will bring him back, but we can only hope that the things we do will help other folk going through something similar. This is a legacy for Thomas.”
The couple were looking forward to the arrival of their second baby, to complete their family with four-year-old son Samuel.
Instead, at 38 weeks pregnant, Rachael, a nurse at Cholrey Hospital, realised she hadn’t felt her baby kick that day and duly visited the Sharoe Green maternity unit at Royal Preston Hospital.
Here the couple were dealt the devastating news – their baby had died.
“You think you’re home and dry at 38 weeks,” said Spencer, a paramedic. “But she’d not felt him kick. At that point you don’t know what to expect so we went into the unit.
“There, the doctors told us we’d lost the baby. It didn’t sink in to begin with. We just felt numb.”
And the heartbreak was far from over. To protect Rachael’s health, she couldn’t deliver the baby for around 36 hours.
“It seemed bizarre to have to wait,” said Spencer. “We still had the bump but we knew the baby had died.”
The parents were sent home on the Sunday evening, to return to the maternity unit on Tuesday morning to deliver their baby – knowing they would never hear him cry, see him smile and watch him grow up.
In fact, at that point the couple didn’t even know their baby was a little boy. Thomas Edward Davis was delivered early on a Tuesday afternoon.
“He looked the spitting image of Samuel,” said Spencer. “He just looked like he was asleep.”
To protect the mother’s health, deliveries of babies known to have died before birth must still be done in the usual delivery suite in a maternity unit, with neighbouring rooms likely to be occupied by families experiencing routine births.
It was during this agonising time, with the couple knowing their baby had not survived, that the sounds of happy families and crying babies began to affect Rachael.
“Rachael could hear a baby crying next door,” her partner of eight years explained.
“Knowing your own bundle of joy would never cry... It’s not that you take it away from anyone else but you can’t get away from it yourself.
“It was torturous.
“Rachael was exhausted and bewildered. It was just another thing for her to have to think about at such a difficult time. You’ve got your own thoughts to deal with without having those sounds making things worse.”
It was during this time that Spencer realised a simple soundproofing of some of the ward rooms would protect parents from such emotive sounds coming from neighbouring rooms.
“We just wanted to lock ourselves away,” remembered Spencer.
“You don’t want any other stresses and it’s something out of your control to hear other babies crying.”
The family were later able to spend time with Thomas by their side, staying in the unit’s specially equipped family room, further away from delivery suites, for three nights. Spencer said: “It was nice to be able to hold him.”
On Friday afternoon the parents took little Thomas for a walk around the duck pond at the hospital, before going to the bereavement suite.
“It’s the longest walk you’ll ever take – to leave hospital without your baby,” said Spencer.
Thomas will never be forgotten by his family, and now they hope he will have a lasting legacy through the Little Ted’s Room appeal.
The campaign started when Spencer posted on a social media site asking if any tradesmen would offer their time for free, and suppliers offer tools and materials, to soundproof the rooms.
He had already mentioned his idea to midwives in the unit, who are unanimous in their support of the appeal, saying it will make a world of difference for other families who lose a newborn baby.
“It’s been fantastic the support we’ve had so far,” said Rachael. “Spencer is on a mission.”
The Little Ted’s Appeal started out in mid-April and has already raised well over £12,000.So far, sales of customised pin badges, lanyards, wristbands and knitted teddies have brought in hundreds of pounds.
A sponsored walk by children and staff at Samuel’s nursery, Yarrow Valley Nursery in Chorley, raised more than £1,000.
And a Little Ted’s tea party raised a further £1,000 while other fundraising events are ongoing, including a sponsored bike ride and a rugby club fun day. And today from 10am to 4pm, Preston’s Fire and Ambulance Station in Blackpool Road is hosting an open day, with proceeds split between The Fire Fighters Charity, North West Air Ambulance and Little Ted’s Room.
Spencer and Rachael said they have been overwhelmed by the support of family, friends, workmates and even strangers.
“It happens more than you think,” said Rachael. “You don’t realise until it happens to you.”
Spencer added: “A lot of people have said they know of someone who’s been through something similar and they could hear those same sounds, of labour and crying in other rooms.Soundproofing the rooms will make a big difference. It won’t change what happened to us or our experience but we hope it will help other people to come.”
- To donate, log on to https://www.justgiving.com/LittleTedsRoom