Helen and Chris' Rainbow Baby Story
Chris and I have been together nearly 15 years. After 10 years he proposed and 11 years we got married (2016). We wanted to enjoy a few years of married life, but in summer 2018 we decided to start trying for a family and luckily fell pregnant quickly.
I felt so lucky to have such an easy-going pregnancy with no symptoms (other than my obsession with cauliflower cheese and pick and mix!!!). We didn't know if we were having a boy or girl, so bought very neutral clothes and decorated the nursery in greys and stars. Little did we know that stars would become so meaningful. Our due date was the 4th June and just like her mummy, Ruby was ready to show up on time. I went into spontaneous labour that afternoon. My husband is a pilot and was just about to take off when I excitedly rang him to tell him to get off the plane, "Baby K" was on the way. We went into hospital at 1.30am to find out I was 7cm dilated. The birthing pool was run and at 4.09am on Wednesday 5th June 2019, our beautiful daughter Ruby was born.
After such a textbook pregnancy and labour with no pain relief (go me!) we were so excited to meet our baby, but little did we know what was about the happen. During the final stages of labour (the last 20-30 minutes) the midwife couldn't find "Baby Ks" heartbeat but said because s/he was so low down that can sometimes happen. I tried to move positions in the pool and eventually she found it. With just a few pushes, our baby was born in the birthing pool. The midwife lifted our baby out of the pool and handed her to me, but within seconds realised she was grey and floppy. Chris quickly cut the cord and then she was taken from us to be rubbed down. After a minute of rubbing down the midwife rang the emergency bell and our daughter, who we had met for a matter of seconds, was whisked away from us.
The resuscitation team worked on Ruby for 30 minutes until she was stable. 4 hours later after being told our daughter was "very very very sick" we went through to SCBU and met our daughter and named her Ruby. Ruby was starved of oxygen so she was left with a severe brain injury called HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy).
She was later transferred to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey where she was very closely monitored in the NICU. She was put on a cooling mat to help minimise any further damage, however, we soon learnt the damage had already been done. Within hours our immediate family were surrounding us and came to meet their first granddaughter/niece. Chris and I were able to stay in one of the 5 family rooms in the NICU, not that we slept much. We just knew we had to be by Ruby’s side constantly.
Ruby tried so hard for 2.5 days, however there was sadly no improvement in her brain activity and therefore we, as her mummy and daddy, we had to make the worst decision anyone should ever have to make, and that was to remove her life support.
I was holding Ruby and the 3 of us were snuggled together and on Friday 7th June 2019 at 6:57pm, after breathing on her own for almost an hour we said goodnight to our beautiful, dark haired baby girl.
Whilst this was the hardest thing we have ever had to go through; we were able to do it with such dignity and care with thanks to her “NICU Aunties” who were with us every step of our journey. The care and support we were all given by the nurses and team at the hospital was out of this world. We got to do all the normal things any mummy and daddy should be able to do. We bathed Ruby, changed her nappy, dressed her, read her stories and sang to her.
We stayed together as a family for a further 3 days in the Daffodil Bereavement Room. This time was so precious, as we continued to care for Ruby, cuddle her and make more memories with the help of Ruby’s daily dedicated nurse. We are not able to thank everyone involved in Ruby’s care enough - without them, we would have been unable to spend such special moments together as a family and create so many treasured memories. Every star, bunny rabbit, red rose and sunflower we see makes us feel close to Ruby.
I loved being pregnant. I was going to really miss it, but I knew that pushing the pushchair around with our newborn baby in it would take over from me missing my bump. I remember going out in the early days, not having my bump or pushchair. That was tough, really tough. I wanted to shout from the rooftops I had just had a baby. I wanted to tell people about our little baby Ruby, how beautiful she is. I wanted to walk around with a sign telling people what had just happened. My mum then said just think how many people could be sat around us who have lost a baby. That makes me incredibly sad how many people go through baby loss and don't talk about their loss. It is so important to break the silence.
We promised Ruby brothers/sisters and on the 5th November 2019 (Ruby's 5 month birthday) we found out we were pregnant with our rainbow baby. Once again I had a very smooth pregnancy but this time we felt like we knew too much about baby loss. It happens at any stage of pregnancy. We tried to remain positive and calm throughout. I only went into hospital once with reduced movements (typically our baby started moving as soon as I was put on the monitor!).
We have had the most wonderful support from 2 very special midwives. Our bereavement midwife Tracy and community midwife Camilla. They really have been with us every step of the way and continue to be. We feel so privileged to call them our friends.
Our rainbow was due on the 12th July 2020 but they didn't want me to go beyond this date. So I was booked in to be induced on the 8th. "Pipkins" (our rainbows name inside my tummy) had other ideas and on the 7th I went into labour. I lasted through the night at home with back ache and went in the next morning as planned. The bereavement midwife had arranged to be there that day and was with us throughout my whole labour.
At 9am she broke my waters (to get things moving), and with a few puffs of gas and air (which is quite simply amazing!!!) and 2 to 3 pushes our rainbow entered the world just a few hours later at 12.10pm. A boy! Ruby has a baby brother and we called him Harry.
Harry pictured with his angel sister Ruby
We were so well looked after following Harrys birth and we were given a private room so Chris was able to stay overnight with us (despite Covid). From the moment we fell pregnant with Harry there have been so many tears of happiness and sadness all mixed into one. It is very bittersweet. We have told him all about his little big sister and will continue to make sure he knows about her. Chris plays football for SANDS United Brighton and Hove who are such a great support for him. Chris loves football and plays with such pride wearing Rubys name embroidered on his shirt with the number 56 (chosen as Ruby was born on 05/06).
Our family and friends are our main support network and have given us so much time and love since Ruby was born. Everyone reacts differently to life after a loss, but for us we have learnt talking is the best medicine. When people ask if we have children, we say "yes, 2". When people ask how old they are, we tell them. Life has taken us on a totally different path, but we call it The Ruby Effect. She has brought so much to our lives and we are so incredibly proud of her. Harry has eased our pain and we now share our love for Ruby with him but it has also brought up so many more emotions. We have a special cuddle with give to Harry which to us, means we are cuddling Ruby too.
Sending so much love and support to anyone reading this. A community you never knew existed, let alone wanted to be part of, but please take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Helen and Chris are currently raising money in Ruby's memory for SANDS UNITED Brighton & Hove. SANDS is the Stillborn and Neonatal Death Society. Sands United FC is a unique way for dads and other bereaved family members to come together through a shared love of sport and find a support network where they can feel at ease talking about their grief when they're ready. If you would like to support Helen and Chris in achieving their goal please check our their just giving page here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stepsforruby They have raised 80% of their target and are just short by £50. Please do what you can to support them in raising money for this worthwhile cause.
During baby loss awareness week #BLAW2020 we will be sharing stories from those who have experienced loss. The inspiration behind Ruby and the Rainbow is our Rainbow Baby Ruby. Through our brand and our work, we want to support awareness of baby loss and support those who follow in our footsteps. If you have a rainbow baby story that you would like to share. Please do get in touch. We really want to show how common baby loss is and how it can have such an impact on parents. It's not spoken about enough and not understood by those who haven't experienced it.