A special cot has been donated to a Yorkshire hospital in memory of a baby who died at just two weeks old. Catherine Scott reports.
This Friday Natasha Limbert should be celebrating her daughter Alexis’s second birthday, instead she will be visiting her grave,
Alexis died on Christmas Eve 2015, aged just 16 days.
“I didn’t even know that I was pregnant with Alexis, despite already having had a baby. The doctors told me I had IBS,” says Natasha. But on December 8 two years ago she gave birth to Alexis in the toilet of her home in York. “When I got over the shock I was thrilled to have her.”
Alexis weighed a healthy 6lb 6oz and after a couple of days in hospital for checks they were allowed home.
But Alexis struggled to keep down her milk and started to lose weight.
Doctors gave her drops to help her keep her milk down and she started to gain weight. But Natasha became increasingly worried about her baby’s breathing, until the early hours of Christmas Eve when she realised something was really wrong.
“She was alive but really struggling to breathe. My mum gave CPR while I called the ambulance which arrived in five minutes,” But when they got to hospital Natasha was told that Alexis hadn’t made it. A post mortem examination revealed that she had viral and bacterial broncopneumonia and bronchiolitis.
“I should be buying birthday and Christmas presents for a two-year-old, instead we are planning a visit to her grave,” says Natasha, who is mum to Savannah, three. Ever since Alexis’s death Natasha and her family have been fund-raising to buy a cold cot for York Hospital where Alexis died, to allow parents to spend more time with their baby’s after death.
“If there is no cold cot in A&E there is nowhere to place a baby who’s died there; the parents have to say goodbye quickly and the baby is taken to the mortuary,” says Hayley. “But with a cold cot, the baby can stay with mum and dad for longer. There is a lot more time to say goodbye.”
She added: “We could only spend one hour 20 minutes with Alexis. There was a cold cot at the hospital but another family were using it. We didn’t want another family to go through what we did.”
Natasha was able to say goodbye to Alexis and have her baptised thanks to funeral director Hayley Owens.
“Hayley was amazing. She allowed us to spend time with Alexis and to have her baptised. “She has become a good friend and really helped us.”
Hayley has a cold cot donated by York SANDS, which also helped Natasha and her family.
Fifteen babies a day are stillborn or die within four weeks of birth in the UK.
In 2015, one in every 227 babies delivered in the UK was stillborn (that is, the baby died during pregnancy or birth any time from 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards).
After decades of stagnation, the UK’s stillbirth rate is starting to fall. However it remains higher than other comparable countries and much more can and should be done.