The Lullaby Trust

Total Raised: £88,770

Jennifer Wakefield, 32, from Hull, told us how The Lullaby Trust has helped her family following heart breaking bereavement.

The facts

– The Lullaby Trust offer specialist support to bereaved parents when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

– The charity campaigns to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and provides advice on safer sleep for babies and emotional support to families.

– Working with the NHS, the Lullaby Trust run a national health visitor-led service for bereaved parents called Care of Next Infant (CONI), to support the family after the birth of a new baby.

– The vision of the Lullaby Trust is to stop all unexpected deaths of babies and young children and to continue to fund and instigate research into both the causes and prevention.

–  For more details visit lullabytrust.org.uk.

The Candis Big Give

Summer 2015 was a busy but happy time for Jennifer and Stephen Wakefield and their five-month-old son, Ralph. They moved from York to Hull in the July and Jennifer had a new job to look forward to as a learning officer in Scunthorpe. Jennifer said, “I enjoyed my work creating workshops for children on school trips for north Lincolnshire Council. Stephen and I decided on a childminder for Ralph’s care and found a husband-and-wife team nearby who had four children of their own. Ralph really took to them – he was a happy, sociable baby and they were lovely with him. Every evening we were given a video diary and fabulous photos with a mini report of what he’d been up to and eaten that day. It was great to see him trying new foods, as he was being weaned, and seemed so happy and content there.”

“Ralph had been going there full-time for just over two weeks when, on 30 September 2015, during my mid-morning coffee break, I received a call from the childminder. I assumed it would be about something trivial, so when he told me that they thought Ralph had died I was in total shock.

“I managed to gather my thoughts enough to ask what was being done to help my baby. He said that the ambulance was there and medics were working on Ralph before taking him to hospital. Because I was new to the area I didn’t know which hospital he meant and I asked him to go in the ambulance with Ralph, which he did.  A colleague drove me to Hull Royal Infirmary and we arrived 25 minutes later. On the way, I rang Stephen and told him to go to the childminders house immediately. He doesn’t drive so he ran there but arrived as the ambulance drove away. The childminder’s wife was very distraught and with a neighbour who kindly drove Stephen to the hospital.

“When I arrived at the children’s A&E department, I was taken to the consultant who was already talking to Stephen. He confirmed that even though Ralph had been given advanced paediatric life support by the paramedics, they couldn’t revive him and he had passed away.

“Later that day, the chief consultant came to see us and suggested Ralph may have died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and that, in some cases, the heart just stops and they don’t know why. Earlier that day, Ralph had been put down for a nap and had slept for a couple of hours, but when the childminder went up to wake him to take him into the garden with the other children, he realised he wasn’t breathing.  A lot of people won’t understand this but for us it was better to know that Ralph had literally just fallen asleep rather than had been poorly for months with lots of invasive painful treatment.

“Much later, in March 2016, at the inquest, we were told that he died almost instantaneously – he had literally turned over in his sleep and his little light went out.  We are comforted to know that he wasn’t in any distress and understand that there’s absolutely nothing the childminders could have done. The cause of death was given as ‘unascertained’, which is usual for SIDS.

“The funeral was in October 2015 and at the end of that month Stephen and I found out that we were expecting another baby. It was a surreal time for us, but we were so pleased – we wanted to continue our journey and desperately wanted a family to be part of it.  We were still grieving terribly for Ralph, so focused on keeping life as calm as possible, and supported by family and friends we slowly grew stronger. Following an uneventful pregnancy, Edward was born in July 2016.

“A few months later, in October, I decided I wanted to do something to honour Ralph’s memory and to help stop the same experience happening to other families, which led me to The Lullaby Trust. I arranged a bake sale at a local vicar’s house and Stephen and I gave an interview to a local newspaper. I’ve been to meetings with The Lullaby Trust and – working closely with Gill Ryder, the charity’s regional development officer – I’ve spoken at a recent conference. Stephen and I have been part of the research they’ve funded over the last two years and it’s really helped us to talk to others and to discuss how parents can be supported going forward.

“But when you lose a child, it’s not something you ever ‘get over’. The grief comes and goes and, in my case, I hit another low point last year. Thankfully, I was able to access The Lullaby Trust’s Befriender service and wasput in touch with someone who had experienced what I’d been through, which made it easier to talk through what I was feeling. The programme puts bereaved families in touch with people who themselves have been bereaved for over four years and have been trained to offerpersonal support via phone or email.

“I’m currently working with a local MP and the lead midwives at Hull Royal Infirmary because, at the moment, it isn’t signed up to the CONI (Care of the Next Infant) scheme. I visit children’s centres and talk to new mums about safer sleep and endorse what The Lullaby Trust do. It helps me a little to know that more people are getting the vital information that could easily save a life.

“I’m thrilled to say that I’m pregnant again – our baby is due this summer and we couldn’t be happier.  This time things have been easier. The midwifery care has been much better and progress has been made in supporting and understanding parents like Stephen and I, and we believe things can only get better.

“It is important to be as positive as you can be. We have a tree in our garden marking where Ralph’s ashes are, so he’s with us all the time. We always acknowledge his special dates and birthdays. Edward can point out Ralph in photographs we have around the house. One day we’ll explain why Ralph isn’t with us anymore. Until then, Edward says goodnight to Ralph’s photo each evening. No matter how many years pass, we will never forget our beloved firstborn son.”

 

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