“We woke up knowing our baby was going to die”

Marie and her husband, Howell, had been struggling to conceive for four years. The couple were due to begin IVF when they found out they were pregnant with twins on Boxing Day in 2017.

Sadly, Marie started to experience severe abdominal pain and she was told that one of her babies was ectopic. The couple remained hopeful for their surviving child and the pregnancy was going smoothly until, at 23 weeks, Marie felt a dramatic change in the positioning of her baby. She decided to seek medical attention from her local hospital, in Hereford, and was told that she was in the early stages of labour. Scared and nervous, they were transferred to Birmingham Women’s Hospital for specialist care.

On 2 May, Emeleia May was born, tiny but with a big personality. She was taken straight to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and from day one she showed tons of character, providing her family with millions of memories.

A week later, Marie and Howell were told by doctors that fragile Emeleia’s condition had deteriorated. “In that moment, we were numb,” adds Marie. “We were completely heartbroken as she’d shown so many signs of getting stronger, and we made the difficult decision to take Emeleia off life-support.”

On the morning that Emeleia passed away, Marie and Howell woke up knowing that their beautiful daughter would die in their arms.

Marie comments: “It was the strangest feeling in the world, I can’t quite put it into words. We were able to carry Emeleia down the corridor to the department’s quiet room, where she was taken off her life-support. I held her close to my chest the whole way; it comforts me to know that the last thing she would’ve heard was my heartbeat.

“Howell and I then asked if we could take her outside so we could spend some quality time together. It was a beautiful day and the nurses did everything they could to make sure we had privacy, but we had to sit on a brick flowerbed in the garden as there wasn’t anywhere else to go. Howell read ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ to Emeleia. It was so peaceful and something I will never forget.”

When it was time to say goodbye, Marie and Howell had to leave Emeleia and walk back through the hospital, knowing they would only be leaving with a box of memories. “When Emeleia passed, our whole world disappeared. Everything from the smells to the noises on NICU hold so many memories for us.

“Every member of staff we came across was brilliant, really respectful and supportive, but there is no escaping that the current facilities for bereaved families are just not good enough.”

Woodland House will be a brand-new, purpose-built, centre away from the hustle and bustle of the main hospital, where families can spend time together in safe, secure and serene surroundings before they feel ready to face the world again. We need to raise £3.5million to make this dream become a reality, and to stop families like Marie’s from having to relive painful memories every time they come back to our hospital.  

Marie added: “Woodland House will be simply amazing and will give families facing the unthinkable a space away from the hospital that isn’t clinical, noisy or full of families getting their happy ending.”