Skip to content

In 2013 in the UK, one in every 137 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life

Here in N. Ireland, over 3 babies a week are stillborn or die in the first 4 weeks of life.

We support all bereaved parents who have lost their babies, before, during or shortly after birth.

Daisy died in the womb at 30 weeks. She had Down Syndrome which caused a horrible condition called 'hydrops fetalis': She was massively swollen with retained fluid. Her heart was tiny, and we had known for a few days that it was failing. Her lungs were hopelessly underdeveloped. She could not have lived outside the womb; we just had to wait helplessly for her to die.

We were devastated and numb with shock. We felt totally alone; why had this happended to our baby; why had this happended to us?

Daisy was stillborn on Friday 10th February 2006. She looked like all newborns do to their parents. She was pink and warm. Her skin was perfect and soft. But Daisy never breathed. I felt a tangible, very real pain deep inside my chest. So this was how it felt when your heart broke...

I made my first call to Sands a few days later. My wife didn't feel up to it, but I knew - for the sake of our other two children - that we'd need help to get through this.

I was quite afraid as I picked up the phone. I didn't want to make a fool of myself. I wasn't sure I would be able to hold back the tears.

When Steven answered the phone, I was relieved. I think it helped that I was speaking to another dad rather than a mum. I told him about Daisy. I didn't manage to hold back the tears, but he told me that he'd been there. He understood my sadness.

He told me about the death of his own daughter. It helped so much just to know that, not far away, there was another dad who had survived what I was feeling. It was important to me not to feel so alone.

Steven told me about the Belfast support group. I wasn't that interested but I agreed that I would think about it. A few days later we decided to go. What did we have to lose?

I'd always thought that support groups were for Americans and addicts. I was convinced that it wasn't for me. At the first meeting I was very uncomfortable to start with. I didn't feel like I wanted to speak and nobody made me. I listened to a mum talking about her baby. Again, it helped me to hear that other people were going through this too.

I was surprised at myself for finding the group helpful. But I did, and we went again. I have found the chance to speak about Daisy with other people who undertand my feelings very beneficial.

I imagined it would only be mums and that I'd be the only bloke. But there were often other dads there. It helped me on the road to feeling normal again.

I'll never forget my little girl. But now, one year on, the raw pain is away and the sadness is manageable. Sands was a part of helping me get to that point; the point where I feel I can live again.