Sophie took part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday 24th March 2019 in memory of her son Kolby. You can help Sophie by supporting Kolby's Footprints.
By Sophie Ashton Harragan
In March 2018 my second much loved Son was born, Kolby. He arrived seven weeks prematurely. His older brother Kody had arrived six weeks early so my hospital bags were well and truly packed around 20 weeks this time around.
Kolby was 3lbs 12 of pure perfection, so delicate, so beautiful. Kolby’s journey took us to 16 days stay on neonatal split in two hospitals, something we never had to experience with his big brother.
Having a premature baby is hard, I have now experienced from two different perspectives, but overall neonatal life is hard! The neonatal nurses were incredible, the babies were true warriors but as a mother of two I felt torn. I’d sit with Kolby long hours each day, and we would go home in the evenings to spend time with our oldest son. Reflecting back, this wasn’t really time, as exhaustion took over and him being only 3.5years at the time meant he would be asleep and, having had major surgery, I would also be asleep not much longer after.
'When your child is born and you’re restricted to when you can hold and cuddle him, when you can take him home, or even when you can start to feed him there is no way to describe just how heart-breaking that is. All I could do was sit with him, cuddle when he was able to and eventually start doing my mum things, such as changing his nappy, bed bathing and eventually was able to start to help feed him.'
Neonatal life was hard, draining and exhausting, both physically and mentally, but I really would give anything to go back to living life on neonatal if it meant I could see my baby again. At day 14 of Kolby’s short-lived life he became unexpectedly poorly. He had showed no signs to us as parents, nurses, doctors or consultants so it all happened very quickly. On day 16 my life changed forever, my beautiful boy grew his angel wings in my arms. I can honestly say I don’t know how I have lived nearly a year without him, no pain is comparable to losing your child, it is unimaginable the pain you feel. Every day I think of him, every day we as a family speak about him, and slowly through raising awareness and speaking openly more and more people aren’t afraid to mention his name to me.
'I know everyone cares and tries to not make you sad but to me why wouldn’t I want to hear my babies name? After all, we were blessed with 16 days on earth with him, seven-and-a-bit months of feeling him grow inside of me, kicking, hiccups and more.'
We struggled to accept that only a few days ago we were preparing to bring our baby home within the next week, yet that weekend that was it. As parents, how could we accept this was really happening let alone explain it to his big brother back at home? That's when Kolby’s Footprints started. As a family we grieve each day, as a family we speak of our baby, as a family we fundraise and help the two hospitals that cared for our Kolby (Broomfield Hospital & Addenbrookes Hospital). We supply keepsake memory boxes full of things to capture lasting memories such as hand and foot kits, mould kits, teddies and more, and, from our experience of parenting after baby loss, created the "sibling bag"; Each contains a teddy which is microwavable to cuddle and provide warming comfort, a book explaining death in a way a child is more able to understand. We have helped fund the cost of a headstone, provided neonatal equipment and more, raising approx. £10,000 in just under one year. I feel so thankful to everyone who has helped Kolby’s Footprints achieve this and supported our journey in helping Kolby's memory live on.
I want to support Tommy's with research to preventing premature births and helping to save babies lives and that is why I am taking on the challenge of running the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Each mile I run, walk, or crawl if I have too, is being ran in memory of an angel baby, through the wide but hidden baby loss community I have met. Mile 13.1, the last and assumable the toughest, will be for my Kolby. You can follow more of Kolby’s Footprints journey by following on Facebook/Instagram.
'Every day is hard, my heart is broken in a way that cannot be fixed. My body aches to hold Kolby and to be able to protect him, cuddle him, bathe him, watch him play with his big brother and all the other things you do with your baby.'
Kolby’s Footprints will forever be helping others who suffer the loss of a baby or supporting where we can with babies that make an early appearance. I will make sure his memory lives on by helping others and leaving his little footprint on many hearts.
Our beautiful baby girl was so perfect, I looked at her little face and waited for her to cry to prove that they were wrong, but she couldn’t.
'No one expects this to happen to them and no one can tell you how you’re meant to act. My pregnancy and birthing plan had disappeared over night and I had two sick babies who I was unable to care for. I felt totally alone with my own feelings and felt I had nowhere to turn.'
1 in every 225 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK. That's 9 babies every day.
A preterm birth is one that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Globally, more than 1 in 10 pregnancies will end in preterm birth.
Statistics about early miscarriage, late miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
Statistics about pregnancy loss and complications in the UK