A bereaved mum has gone the extra distance for families experiencing pregnancy and baby loss, after walking 100 miles in one month and raising over £8,000 for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity’s Woodland House Appeal, in memory of her stillborn baby boy.

41-year-old Kate Smith pulled on her walking shoes to tackle the distance as a way of managing her grief after the devastating loss of her baby Remy, who passed away last year.

Kate was just 16 weeks pregnant with Remy when she found out he was battling Rhesus Disease, which occurs when a mum’s blood type is rhesus negative but her baby’s is rhesus positive. This mismatch meant that antibodies in Kate’s blood could potentially begin to act against Remy’s red blood cells.

After being referred to the Fetal Medicine team at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Kate was given weekly scans to monitor the situation but as Remy’s case was quite severe, at 25 weeks, doctors recommended that he should undergo an in-utero blood transfusion. This meant Remy would undergo the procedure whilst still inside Kate’s womb.

The transfusion went well and at 29 weeks doctors prepared Kate and her husband, JJ, for a second one. As she was sedated for the procedure, Kate felt hopeful for another success and things appeared to go to plan but just a couple of hours later, during a follow up scan, doctors broke the world-shattering news that Remy had passed away. Having been alone for her appointment due to hospital restrictions, Kate had to wait until JJ had come to collect her before she could tell him the devastating news that their precious baby had died.

Kate and JJ felt numb as they returned to the hospital two days later and made their way to the maternity ward. They were taken straight to the hospital’s dedicated bereavement suite, the Abby Suite, where Kate knew she would soon be delivering a baby they wouldn’t get to take home.

The following day, Remy was born and he looked perfect. Kate and JJ spent as much time as they could with him in the Abby Suite but they were so aware of the healthy babies being born just seconds from them down the corridor. The couple returned home empty handed and had to explain the sad situation to Remy’s two older siblings.

Kate began looking for a way to channel her grief during her maternity leave, initially hoping to raise funds for the hospital’s Fetal Medicine department, or to improve the Abby Suite. Then, Kate came across the Woodland House Appeal to bring a new standalone bereavement centre to Birmingham Women’s Hospital for parents who have lost a precious baby.

Kate said: “The pain of losing Remy was indescribable and being surrounded by crying babies and families having their happy endings just made the situation even harder. When I discovered the Woodland House Appeal, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s everything I could hope for, for a family going through the same as we did. Nothing will take the pain away, but at least they’ll be in a more sensitive environment.

“I decided to challenge myself to walk 100 miles over one month. As soon as I set up my fundraiser and began to share it, donations started rolling in and it meant the world to JJ and me. Our friends, family and colleagues were so generous, and we felt so supported by them at such a difficult time in our lives.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: “We can never take away the heartache of losing a precious baby, but thanks to incredible fundraisers like Kate, Woodland House will soon be a reality for families just like hers, as we have recently started work on this important centre.

“We’re still fundraising to help make Woodland House a home from home, to make sure our families feel safe, and have sensitive surroundings where they can spend time together, before they feel ready to face the world again.” Find out more about our Woodland House Appeal.