A mum who tragically lost one of her twin daughters at birth has thanked the maternity staff at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary for their support.
Baby Jessica Woodhouse was stillborn following an emergency caesarean after suffering a placental abruption.
Her sister Bella survived and is now recovering in the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit.
And as the NHS marks its 70th anniversary, the twins’ heartbroken mum Emma said the RLI bereavement team and maternity unit were “amazing”.
The agony began for Emma, 27, and husband Paul, 28, early on June 21, just 29 weeks and four days into the pregnancy.
“I went into early labour in the morning,” Emma said.
“We were at the hospital in 10 minutes and 18 minutes later I was on the operating table.
“As they were taking me in they said they couldn’t find a heartbeat in one of the babies.”
Jessica was born at 9.54am weighing just 2lb 3oz, while Bella was born two minutes later weighing 2lb 11oz.
Surgeons tried to resuscitate Jessica for 22 minutes, until Paul had to make the heartbreaking decision for their efforts to be halted.
“I feel glad that I know they did so much to try to help,” Emma said.
After coming round from the surgery, Emma was moved to the RLI’s specialist suite for bereaved parents.
The bereavement team immediately provided the couple with a memory box and also took Jessica’s hand and foot prints and casts and arranged professional photographs.
“They did things we wouldn’t have even thought of to help us make memories,” said Emma.
Emma and professional golfer Paul, who live in Cleveleys Avenue in Scale Hall, spent six days at the unit with Jessica, as well as a night at the mortuary before finally coming home.
The twins were also placed together for a short time.
“They were not identical but when we put them together Bella’s heart rate settled straight away,” Emma said.
“The follow-up care was amazing. Every midwife we saw and every member of staff on neo-natal knew what had happened and they were all really sympathetic.
“Celia, the head bereavement midwife, has been checking up on me every since.
“Paul has also been getting a lot of support.
The couple have both been referred for counselling and have also been given support in helping their three other children – Jack, four, Mikey, three, and one-year-old Nicole – to deal with the loss, particularly Jack.
“He really connected with Jessica and cuddled her,” Emma said. “We have got books which explain death to children and have been given advice on how to deal with it.
“Jack was expecting two babies to come home, so we have had to explain it to him.”
Emma, whose due date was September 2, has been classed as high risk in all of her pregnancies, with Jack also being born at just over 29 weeks.
However, she suffered no health problems throughout her recent pregnancy.
“We knew it was high risk and that they would come early but we didn’t for a second think there would be any problems,” she said. “Throughout my pregnancy I had fortnightly and sometimes weekly scans and constant check-ups with a consultant, but the abruption was very sudden. It all happened so fast but the surgeon was really supportive and explained it all to us.
“The whole team was amazing, including at the mortuary. They couldn’t have done any more really to look after us. Nothing was too much trouble for them.
“We now have memories of a nice week with Jessica.
“I don’t know what we would have done if we had just been left to come home.
“We were expecting to come home with two babies so I don’t know how we would have coped.”
Jessica’s funeral was held at Lancaster & Morecambe Crematorium last Thursday, which was also arranged with the help of RLI staff.
Emma added: “I’m completely heartbroken that we’ve lost her, but I know that everything that was organised and set out for us by the maternity staff will make a massive positive difference to our lives in the future.”