A GRIEVING couple are coming to terms with laying to rest their second baby in the space of just five months.
Tracy Upfold and Rob Leonard, from Bognor, were devastated when Tracy went into early labour and their baby, who they named Alfie, was stillborn after 23 weeks.
Their pain was eased when Tracy fell pregnant again soon after, but tragically they lost a second baby boy last month to a miscarriage.
After holding a second funeral this year on Friday, the couple have bravely shared their experience in the hope of helping others cope with similar pain.
“To lose one baby who we still feel should be with us was bad enough, but to then lose our rainbow baby is soul-destroying,” Tracy, 27, said.
Mum-of-two Tracy says her children Bradley, eight, and Lucie, seven, to a previous partner refer to Rob as their dad. Desperate to ‘complete’ their family with a child of their own, they were ‘over the moon’ when Tracy first fell pregnant.
“Everything was going perfectly up until 22 weeks. “We had the 12-week scan and the 20-week scan and everything seemed fine, we found out we were having a boy and as a family we were really excited.
“The kids were over the moon they were having a baby brother, we’d even started buying bits for him.
“But then at 22 weeks my waters broke.”
They went to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester where checks revealed the baby’s heart was still beating. They say they were told Alfie’s chances of survival were given as 50/50.
Tracy says she was placed on antibiotics and sent home to rest. After ‘feeling fine’ for a day she says she started to deteriorate over the next few days. “I got really poorly, was shaking like mad and was freezing cold. It got so bad I couldn’t open my eyes and couldn’t handle any noise.”
They went to St Richard’s and were told she was 1cm dilated and in labour. Rob said: “She was so sick, I was told there would be a point where we would have to chose between her and the baby, that he wouldn’t survive because he was too early.”
Tracy says she doesn’t remember much of the labour, apart from being in agony and ringing her mum to say ‘he’s not going to make it’. “Alfie was born sleeping, as they said, at 6.25am on May 26. They don’t know if he died before I gave birth or during the labour.”
For the next week they went to visit him most days, to hold him while Rob read him bedtime stories.
They held a funeral at Chichester crematorium and the two children, who also struggled, sent letters to their brother up in balloons.
Tracy describes Alfie as their ‘perfect baby’ who was the ‘spitting image of his dad’. “I didn’t know how to feel, for weeks I felt numb, empty and broken. If I didn’t have the kids I’m not sure what I would have done.
“Most parents are changing dirty nappies and having sleepness nights and we were desperate for that.”
Rob says he struggled going back to work as a delivery driver and went to a ‘dark place’.
Tracy said: “When we found out we were having another baby boy, we felt like some of the hole in losing Alfie had suddenly been filled. He was our rainbow baby, the rainbow after the storm of losing our first.”
They named him Bouncer because he moved around so much in early scans.
But tragically the 12-week scan picked up a problem, and soon after a private scan in Southampton revealed his heart had stopped.
Tracy had an induced labour on October 16, and last Friday they held a second funeral this year.
Despite their immense pain, the pair say they have found comfort in speaking to others on baby forums.
Tracy said: “You feel so alone when it happens, like you’re the only ones this is happening to, but then we realised so many others have had the same experience and it’s really helped both of us.
“But outside of forums it’s not really spoken about, it’s almost like you are expected to just get on with life.
“We want to raise awareness and let people know it’s OK to grieve for a child, however old they are.”
Tracy says she would be willing to help others who have gone through the same.
The couple are trying to raise money for a special place to remember Alfie and Bouncer. To find out more go to http://e.gofund.me/352h2p58
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