The Lullaby Trust
“It helped to give us peace of mind”
Christopher Hampson, 37, from Carmarthenshire, explains how The Lullaby Trust charity helped his family after the tragic and sudden death of his daughter Chloe
For Christopher Hampson, holding his daughter, Chloe, in his arms for the first time was a magical experience he’ll always remember. “Chloe was born in April 2012 and was mine and my wife, Stephanie’s, first child. It was a wonderful feeling to become a father – a completely life-changing experience – and Chloe was just perfect.”
However, when Chloe was just ten weeks old, Christopher noticed something was wrong. “It was about 7am and Chloe had been sleeping following an early morning feed. When we checked on her we could see something wasn’t quite right, and when I picked her up she was quite floppy.”
Terrified, they rang for an ambulance. “I went in the ambulance with Chloe while my wife followed behind. As soon as we got to the hospital, we were whisked into a cubicle where the doctors set about trying to get oxygen into Chloe’s lungs with CPR.”
After about 20 minutes of attempting to resuscitate Chloe, the doctors explained to Christopher and Stephanie that there was nothing more they could do. “We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. The grief of losing our daughter was just unbearable,” says Christopher.
“Stephanie’s pregnancy was complication free and Chloe had seemed completely healthy, which was also shown in the results of the post-mortem.
The coroner couldn’t find any reason for her death so put it down to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – a term used for the quick and unexplained death of a healthy baby.”
In the weeks that followed, Christopher and Stephanie struggled to adjust to life without Chloe. “We decided not to go down the route of counselling and just coped between us with the help of our family, however we both felt quite numb,” says Christopher. “I couldn’t do much at all for the first week or two and was off work for a couple of months. It felt impossible to return to normal life after the loss of our daughter.”
A few months after Chloe’s death, Christopher found the charity The Lullaby Trust online and decided to contact them about doing some fundraising. “I told them I was going to climb Mount Snowdon to raise money. It gave me something else to focus on – which was a great help to me – and I raised about £4,000 for the charity.”
Shortly after this, in October 2012, Stephanie discovered she was pregnant again. “It was very deliberate for Steph to get pregnant again, but our joy was also mingled with fear and anxiety. As we didn’t know what the reasons were for what happened to Chloe, there’s always that fear of the unknown.”
Following an antenatal appointment, Stephanie’s midwife contacted The Lullaby Trust about its Care of Next Infant (CONI) scheme, which she believed would help the couple. The scheme is designed to help expectant parents who have previously lost a child, through the provision of equipment, advice and emotional support.
“They gave us a sleep apnoea monitor, which you attach to the baby to monitor its breathing, so if the baby stops breathing an alarm will go off and you will instantly know and can start resuscitation,” explains Christopher. “They also arranged more regular check-ups with a health visitor and doctor throughout the pregnancy, so they could check the baby was developing as it should, and they gave us CPR training for babies and general baby first-aid training in our home, so we knew what to do if the baby stopped breathing. The monitor gave us so much peace of mind and the training gave us the confidence that we knew what to do if anything went wrong.”
Christopher and Stephanie now have three children – Ethan, three, Aaron, two, and Amelia, who was born in June this year. “Having more children has really helped us as it has given us something else to focus on,” says Christopher. “We used the CONI scheme for all three of our children – it was absolutely brilliant and was a huge weight off our minds. It helped us to relax and enjoy those first months with our children, rather than focusing on fears.”
Christopher has also continued to fundraise for The Lullaby Trust – completing the Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours and holding regular charity football matches. “So far we’ve raised about £22,000, which I am really pleased about. Knowing I am potentially helping to prevent other families from going through what we went through with Chloe is really important to me.
“The work that The Lullaby Trust do is amazing. Although we chose not to go through counselling, we know the service is always there if we need it and it offers incredible support to families like ours through its helplines, which are available 24 hours a day. It also helps to raise awareness of SIDS, which is so important. There are around 300 babies a year in the UK that die from this syndrome and that’s too many. The Lullaby Trust aims to raise awareness and educate parents, which is vital for helping to reduce this number.”
THE FACTS – The Lullaby Trust
- The charity started in 1971 as The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), relaunching as The Lullaby Trust in April 2013 in order to reach more families with its advice.
- It is the leading charity dedicated to reducing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and supporting bereaved families across the UK.
- The charity has so far invested over £11 million in SIDS research to help them understand where and when a baby is most at risk.
- Since it formed there has been around a 70 per cent reduction in SIDS deaths in the UK.
- Go to lullabytrust.org.uk for more.
BIG GIVE UPDATE
The Lullaby Trust will spend the £65,399 raised on supporting bereaved families who go on to have another child through its Care of Next Infant (CONI) scheme, which offers specialist equipment, evidence-based advice and support to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear.
As told to Hannah McLoughlin
Photos Alistair Heap