Emma was supported by Child Bereavement UK after her son, Ellis, was stillborn at 35 weeks. Emma talks about the support she received and why she’s decided to raise fundraise for the charity.

In 2012 I found myself pregnant in my forties. The pregnancy was going fine, but then, at thirty-five weeks, I went to see the midwife and she couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat very easily. However, she said everything was alright. Later that week I went to see the doctor and told her I hadn’t felt the baby moving much, it took a while but she did find the heartbeat. I wasn’t very comfortable with that though and the following morning I felt that something was seriously wrong.

I went to the hospital and they were unable to find a heartbeat. They told me that my baby had died at 35-weeks. When they told us what had happened, I let out this wail. My husband Mick said he’d never heard a sound like that. I’d never heard a sound like that either; I don’t know where it came from.

Ellis was born by Caesarian section. My parents came up and then we returned with them to Wales for Christmas. While we were there my wound became infected and we had to go to the hospital. It was horrible. I had to be strong through for the kids and for Mick, although he was a good support.

 Family and friends were a great support too but, when you go to bed at night, you still don’t have your baby.

Family and friends were a great support too but, when you go to bed at night, you still don’t have your baby. We’d moved Billy out of his old room and put him in with Dylan and redecorated the nursery. Everything was ready for the new baby, having to go in there and sort through all the clothes we’d got ready was horrible.

I felt so low and so guilty; was it anything that I’d done, was there anything that I didn’t do?  What if I’d gone to the hospital sooner? Was there anything wrong with him?

“I felt so low and so guilty; was it anything that I’d done, was there anything that I didn’t do?  What if I’d gone to the hospital sooner? Was there anything wrong with him?”

I could have gone for counselling at the hospital but I thought I’d see how things went.  Then a friend of mine, who had been to a couple of Child Bereavement UK events, popped round and mentioned that the charity offered support to bereaved parents. She said that if I wanted to talk to someone it might be worth giving them a call and finding out what they could do.

 I’d been on the web and joined group chats, and that kind of helped, but I just wanted to know that what we were telling my sons Billy and Dylan, who were 2 and 5 respectively, was right, what the easiest way to explain what had happened to the boys was and how we should be feeling. 

Dylan was very aware. He had lots of questions: ‘Why did it happen?’ ‘Where is he?’ ‘Can we see photos of him?’. So, we showed him photos of Ellis, quite often he’d ask to see the photos and ask where Ellis was. 

Just over a month after Ellis died, I rang Child Bereavement UK and they told me they could offer group sessions and one-to-one support. They put me in touch with a practitioner and she said that it might be a bit soon for me but suggested I come for a chat and take it from there.

I was thinking: ‘Do I really want counselling? Do I need counselling? I don’t know whether I do need counselling’. Sometimes I’d drive to a session on a nice sunny day and think, ‘I’m fine, what am I doing here today?’. Then I’d sit down and find it was time for me to think about Ellis without any other distractions. Often, I’d just blubber, I just felt that I could do that there.

 I was thinking: ‘Do I really want counselling? Do I need counselling? I don’t know whether I do need counselling’. Sometimes I’d drive to a session on a nice sunny day and think, ‘I’m fine, what am I doing here today?’ then I’d sit down and find it was time for me to think about Ellis without any other distractions. Often, I’d just blubber, I just felt that I could do that there.

 It was just nice, we’d talk about other things as well; what I was doing, work, the family, me and Mick and how he was handling things. I was also given some publications on how children deal with grief, what to expect and how to explain to the boys what had happened, which really helped. I gave copies to my parents and to my mother-in-law.

To other bereaved families, I’d say just take it a day at a time; talk about your baby or child, don’t be afraid. What I found helped was understanding the different stages you go through and having someone explain to you that it’s normal to feel and react like you do. It made me think about things differently, including the way I interact with people.

 To other bereaved families, I’d say just take it a day at a time; talk about your baby or child, don’t be afraid. What I found helped was understanding the different stages you go through and having someone explain to you that it’s normal to feel and react like you do. It made me think about things differently, including the way I interact with people. You might not feel that you need to speak to someone but try and talk to someone who isn’t related to you, someone impartial who is there for you and understands. 

I knew someone socially who works for Child Bereavement UK.  One day, we were chatting and she asked if I’d like to volunteer. I started volunteering at the charity, helping with a mailshot. Then my friend was preparing to climb Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Child Bereavement UK, which I thought looked really good. She inspired me take up the challenge myself.

 I’ve started training and I’m up to running 5k, which I do two or three times a week with a local running group.  I’ve also been doing some bootcamps where I do circuits and toning. I’ve also climbed Snowden and Scafell Pike.

Lizee from the fundraising team keeps in contact with me, sends me information and checks how I’m getting on. She’s also given me ideas on how to raise funds. One was to give friends and families jars of sweets which once they’ve finished, they have to fill up with money.  I did that for my birthday as I had a big birthday recently. I’ve set up a Just Giving page and I’m up to £2,500 in donations already.

I wanted to fundraise for Child Bereavement UK because I’ve used their services, and I follow them on social media, so I know a lot about what they do. They’ve helped me so much – probably more than I realise. For me, it’s important to fundraise for something you believe in.

I wanted to fundraise for Child Bereavement UK because I’ve used the services, and I follow them on social media, so I know a lot about what they do. They’ve helped me so much – probably more than I realise. For me, it’s important to fundraise for something you believe in.