Hollyoaks fans will remember that in the soap Mercedes lost her and Joe’s baby when he was stillborn last year.
Mercedes was forced to go through the ordeal without the support of Joe, after she lied and told him that the baby wasn’t his.
Now, speaking almost a year after the scenes aired, Ayden Callaghan’s girlfriend, Sarah-Jane Honeywell, has spoken about how the actor specifically asked to be removed from the storyline because it was too upsetting.
The couple had endured a devastating miscarriage in 2012 and the scenes felt a little too close to home for the pair of them.
Writing in an emotional blog, Sarah said: "You don't realise how devastating something like miscarriage is until you've been through it. And now Ayden was going to be involved in a storyline on the soap he works at, where he would be the father of a stillborn baby and it would be filming around the time I was due to give birth.
"It's wonderful that soap operas cover the heartbreaking, barely talked about subject of stillbirth. If it's done well it can help all of us deal with it – but of all the actors in the show, I wished with all my heart that it didn't have to be Ayden that was doing it.”
She added: “I hadn't even thought about the possibility of a stillbirth until then, the story put it firmly in my mind.
“I couldn't even look at baby things or clothes without having blackouts. I stopped putting on weight and on scans Phoenix had stopped growing. At this point I begged Ayden whether there was there any way he could not do that storyline. I knew I was being irrational but I couldn't help it and it was making me and therefore, our baby, ill.”
The Hollyoaks team, who were in continual touch with charity Kicks Count, responded to the grieving dad’s request with kindness and sensitivity. Sarah added: “It is absolutely unheard of for an actor to ask to be written out of a storyline.
“He didn't know if he would be sacked, blacklisted and he certainly knew that he would lose money – but he loved me and the baby he hadn't even met so much that he put his whole career on the line for us.”
The couple went on to welcome a healthy baby boy in November last year, whom they called Phoenix. Their little boy’s name means “reborn from the ashes” - which we’re sure has an extra-special poignancy to both Ayden and Sarah-Jane following the loss of their first baby.
Tommy's midwife, Kate Pinney, said: “A loss of a baby, no matter the stage of pregnancy, is devastating for parents and feelings of anxiety in the next pregnancy is common and normal. If you feel anxiety is getting out of hand it's important to talk to someone. It is great to hear that Ayden’s employers were so supportive and sensitive to what he has been through with his girlfriend and it’s so brave of Sarah-Jane to talk about her miscarriage and how she felt about it afterwards. Such an experience can so often be a silenced issue, and speaking out will help other women going through this know they aren’t alone.”
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