It felt natural to keep him in his nursery. In a coffin in his cot

Dad Keith talks about the stillbirth of his second born, a son named Owen.

We lost Owen on 5 October 2013. He was 38 weeks.

Our daughter was two years old at the time. We’d had a very normal first pregnancy and birth. Olivia had arrived a day late. She was perfect in every way.

My wife, Amy, had hand, foot and mouth during her pregnancy with Owen. They were keeping an eye on her and scanning her every 10 days.

We could see there was a slow down in Owen’s growth and Amy noticed a slow down in his movement. However, it was still within acceptable parameters so nothing was done.

You can look back with hindsight and analyse what happened and come to your own conclusions, but no matter what happened, it doesn’t change the outcome.

The day before Owen was born, Amy knew he had gone.

We feared the worst.

We went into hospital, where Amy was scanned and the consultant told us our son had died. There was no heartbeat.

That realisation, and my wife’s reaction, was the worst moment of my life. It will stay with me forever.

The staff talked us through our options and we knew we’d have to go through the birth. We chose to go home and come back in to hospital as soon as we could, which was the next day.

The birthing process was better than with our first baby. At least we knew what we were doing. We were left to our own devices a lot, which was hard. We could have done with more reassurance. Amy was remarkably strong and positive. I needed to be calm and practical, asking the right questions, doing everything she needed.

We were very worried about how our baby was going to look and the possible deterioration in his appearance. We asked the midwife if she could make sure it was ok for us to see him.

Owen was perfect - he looked very similar to our daughter. We felt lucky. His eyes were tightly closed and he had purple lips, but other than that, he was perfect.

Owen was delivered on the evening of the Saturday and we were able to stay with him. The midwife took him away and cleaned him up. We had an outfit for him.
He stayed in a cot in our room that night.

Sadly by the morning his skin had deteriorated. He had blisters on his arms. They didn’t have cold cots at the hospital.

The midwife took hand and foot prints so we had something to take away. We took pictures with him. In some ways, we tried to make it like a normal birth. But he did deteriorate quickly - just the slightest mark made his skin blister.

Our mums came in to see Owen (we have both lost our dads). Neither of them had any experience of this and it definitely affected them but it was important to us that they met Owen.

In hindsight we wish we’d let our daughter Olivia see him. She feels frustrated that she never met her brother.

The process of losing your baby happens so quickly. Within 48 hours we were told he’d gone, next he was delivered and then there’s the realisation you’re never going to see your baby again.

Letting family and friends see Owen made him and the experience feel more real, if that makes sense.

Our friend is an undertaker. He took Owen away to the morgue and then brought him home to us in a coffin. We didn’t look at Owen again, we were advised not to.

He stayed at home with us until the funeral. His nursery was all ready for him so it felt natural to keep him there, in a coffin in his cot, for the following three days.

It was comforting for us to have him there with us at home. It felt natural to us.

We buried him with my Dad, which also felt right. He’s not alone. We’ve not had a gravestone made yet. Even though some years have passed, we’re not ready for that just yet. It feels very final.

Like a lot of dads, I had to go back to work straight away. I found it a good distraction. I ran a lot and I signed up for some marathons. Running got me away for a few hours at a time and gave me the chance to switch off.

I wasn’t right for at least six months after. I was on auto-pilot. People might not have noticed too much but I wasn’t myself.

I still think of Owen every day.

More information on stillbirth

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