For Baby Loss Awareness Week we have been given very kind permission to share a personal story from one of our colleagues in the 111 service.
Chloe Colbeck is a Health Advisor based at Chesterfield and she lost her baby, Byron, within hours of him being born…an unimaginable experience for anybody and one that will never, ever leave her.
Chloe has turned that experience into something positive for other families who go through the same traumatic experience and she spoke to us to explain a bit more about her and Byron’s story…in her own words…
“I remember the day vividly, it was the 6th November 2019 and I went to work as usual that morning. I began to feel that something was off and my waters broke which, given that I was only 21 weeks pregnant, meant that I was rushed to hospital by ambulance. As time was a factor, I went to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and despite all of their best efforts, Byron died within 18 hours of us arriving.
“He was so small, he passed away in my arms. I was angry and upset, looking for someone or something to blame but knew there was very little anybody could do; he was so premature, so small. They had a bereavement room there where we were able to spend time with Byron, give us a chance to say goodbye to the little boy we would never see grow up. We were able to use the room for four or five days and it helped me to come to terms with it to a certain extent but I wanted to do something in Byron’s name to help others in my situation.
Making a Difference…
“I was very fortunate to have a second child, Eli (pictured above), and it prompted me to come up with the idea of a Memory Box (pictured below) for those who had lost a child at birth. I raised money and pulled together the boxes, which I called Byron’s Memory, and filled it with items that could help people to remember their baby. There was small book to record your thoughts in a letter, a footprint, handprint, place to save a lock of hair, photo book, that kind of thing. I gave them to the Chesterfield Birth Centre so that anyone going through what I went through could have some comfort and their own way of remembering. I believe they still have some of the boxes left.
“In terms of what I went through at the time, it’s something you can’t possibly plan or prepare for. You expect a healthy child, contemplating anything else is impossible. There were several local organisations including Chesterfield SANDS, which stands for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death, and Aching Arms which offers support to those who suffered a loss like mine. There is help out there but how you approach it is down to the individual and I can appreciate that some will find it very difficult to talk about.
“Keep strong and access that support…”
“I was surprised at how common losing a baby at birth or pre-term actually is and the longer your pregnancy lasts, the risk of baby loss is reduced as the baby gets stronger. My advice would be to keep strong and access that support, even if it isn’t for you, it shows that you are not alone. Use your existing relationships for support whether that’s family, friends or trusted colleagues. I have many friends who have experienced similar loss and that shared experience is invaluable to understanding your own, often conflicting emotions and what is going on inside.
“But above all, let your emotions out, don’t internalise your feelings and suffer in silence. Cry, shout, write it down, just make sure you get it out. Burying it is the worst thing you can do because even me, who’s talked about it a lot, done something with Byron’s memory to help others and shared my experiences with others, it will never leave me and will always be a part of me. Byron is and will always be an important part of who I am and I don’t want to lose that memory. Talking about him and what happened helps to keep that alive."