SUNDAY will be a bittersweet time for South Shore couple Sarah Sanderson and Daniel Knott.
As they join other heartbroken parents at a special remembrance service, they will feel comforted by the fact they are not alone in their grief, but saddened by the thought of Christmas without the baby they had looked forward to welcoming.
Their son Charlie was stillborn at 24 weeks, in July, and they will light a candle in his memory at the annual event at the Baronial Hall, in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The devastated couple say they have taken solace from the support of family and the help of Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s bereavement support nurse, as well as support group SANDS.
Sarah, 26, said: “The SANDS group has been wonderful. When you lose a child, you feel so alone. But the remembrance service and SANDS show you are you’re not on your own.
“It’s good to be able to talk about it, as it’s something of a taboo subject. A lot of people don’t really know how to react when you tell them. They don’t want to upset you.”
Daniel, also 26, said: “It’s good to be able to meet other people who have been through the same thing. You can relate to them, and help each other.”
Sarah and Daniel had been together for more than eight years when they were delighted to discover they were expecting their first baby.
Everything was fine throughout the pregnancy, until Sarah went for a routine scan at 24 weeks, and the midwife struggled to find a heartbeat.
Sarah was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Unit at the Vic for an ultrasound scan.
“That was the worst bit. I had just been desperately clinging to the smallest hope until then,” said Sarah.
She was given tablets to induce the birth, and then Charlie was born asleep, weighing just 1lb.
Sarah and Daniel were tested to make sure there was no chromosome problem or genetic abnormality. A post-mortem examination revealed there had been a problem with the placenta.
Sarah said: “You go through every emotion. You go through it all in your mind, wondering if you could have done something different.
“And it was awful when we went to register his death and there were people with new babies registering the birth. You just think ‘why couldn’t that be me?’
“But funeral directors at Hollowell’s were wonderful, and we held his funeral on August 5.
“And at the hospital, they took Charlie’s foot and hand prints, which they put into a little book for us to keep, and we had put on to necklaces.
“At the time, you’re so exhausted and it’s very raw, but now those things are a real comfort.
“We will always remember him. We have a little Christmas tree to take to the crematorium, and we visit every couple of weeks.
“One day, when we have his little brother or sister, we want them to know about him.
“We know Christmas will be really hard, because we had been expecting our first family Christmas. We are looking forward to the New Year and a fresh start. And the remembrance service will help.”
The non-religious service – for babies or children who have died at any time – will take place at 3pm. Blackpool Council has donated a Christmas tree, and parents can place a bauble on it in memory of their child.
For details, call Megan Murray on (01253) 306877. For more details about the local branch of SANDS, call on Sarah Wallbank on 07954 416335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.