Danielle Jones spent four days cradling her baby girl who had died in her womb several days before. Now, the 31-year-old Preston mum is creating precious memories and celebrating her daughter, Lilly-May’s life with her partner, Adam Masterson and his son, Jack, seven
Danielle thinks about her daughter every day and wants everyone around her to talk about her, too.
Lilly-May will even be celebrated at Danielle and partner Adam Masterson’s impending nuptials, as it will be held on May 18, a day after what would have been her first birthday.
Instead of wedding gifts, the couple are asking for donations for Baby Beat, at Royal Preston Hospital. They have already raised £1,889 through a walk from PNE to Blackpool FC.
Danielle, from Ribbleton, says: “The money raised will go towards a bereavement suite for parents to go into a comfortable environment and spend time with their baby. We spent four days with Lilly-May in hospital, cuddling her, taking photos and making foot and handprints. It was so special to us as we wanted to make so many memories with her as she is still our little girl. In the future, myself and Adam can show Jack (Adam’s son, aged seven) her hand and foot print and her beautiful memory box.”
After suffering three miscarriages, Danielle was excited to be carrying her fourth child to almost full term. But after 37 weeks, she was given the sad news that her baby had died.
She was born two weeks early on May 17 last year, weighing 4lb 1oz.
Danielle says: “At our 20-week scan, we couldn’t get a proper vision of her spine because she would not move from her back.
“We had a few more scans and then went to Manchester where we were told one of her vertebrae had not formed properly, but they thought she would be okay and able to walk. At 34 weeks I had another scan and despite worries she may be underweight, she was fine.
“But at 37 weeks and five days, I woke up and went to the toilet. Normally after this she kicks me to say she is hungry. We nicknamed her piglet because I ate a lot during pregnancy.
“She didn’t move so I prodded her. I had a warm bath as she liked my belly being cold, so this might make her move, still nothing.
“I phoned my midwife and she told me to go to hospital. The midwife did a scan and could not find a heartbeat on the right side, so they tried the left, which is always stronger. There was still no heartbeat. Everything was a whirlwind. Within minutes a specialist midwife came in. I was hysterical. She managed to calm me down to talk about what we wanted to do. I was asked if I wanted to take a tablet which stops the hormones and I said no, as I wanted a few more days with my baby as normal.
“We came back the day after to take the tablet and was told I would be induced a few days later – on May 18.
“I went home and woke up the next morning, on May 16, with strong pains and my contractions had started.
“I went to Royal Preston Hospital and the specialist midwife didn’t think I would go into labour yet.
“That night my contractions got worse, but the midwife said my waters would not break and I would have to be induced. But my waters did break and I then went into full blown labour and gave birth at 1.43am on May 17.
“We were all shocked that she was able to make her way down the birth canal as she could not move herself.”
Following Lilly-May’s birth, Danielle has received a support and counselling at Royal Preston Hospital.
She adds: “I would not have got through this without the support of my family and friends, and the team at Royal Preston Hospital. “They have been brilliant and I still go for counselling. It is helping me a lot.”
Danielle adds she draws her strength from keeping Lilly-May’s memory alive.
She says: “I want people to say Lilly-May’s name to us. I don’t want people to think that talking about her will upset us because it won’t. We talk about her every day.
“I get my strength from Lilly-May. I feel like she has left a part of her inside me, saying I can do this.
“We have a lot of things to remember her by and Adam is going to get a full tattoo sleeve in memory of her. We have been engaged for quite a while and so decided to have a joint wedding and birthday celebration a day after her birthday. It will be low key at Greenlands in Ribbleton. Lilly-May is our rainbow baby. When it is our wedding anniversary we can celebrate her being part of us.”
Danielle, who is a nursery nurse, now wants to use her experiences to help others.
She adds: “When I was pregnant, I didn’t think about stillbirth. I was more worried about miscarriages, as I had three. I want to tell people to follow their gut instinct and not be scared to get help if they can’t feel their baby moving. I would recommend a kick count bracelet, as if it wasn’t for that and for noticing she was not doing her usual things, I would not have known.
“The reason I’m telling my story is to prevent the taboo of stillbirth and encourage families to talk about their babies they have lost, through miscarriage, still birth, neonatal death or SIDS. I just want all families to know they are not alone and that talking about their little ones is something to be proud about, as myself and Adam try every day to make Lilly-May proud of us.”