OVER 3,500 babies are stillborn every year in the UK and SANDS Lights of Love services happens once a year to remember those loved ones at Christmas.
With the festive season approaching, the Lights of Love service give us another chance to remember loved ones no longer with us. Join the SANDS Lights of Love service tomorrow, Friday December 9 in Warrington.
SANDS is the stillbirth and neonatal deaths charity, providing support to anyone affected by a still birth.
Bereaved mother Heidi Goldsack, 41, will be attending the event as she does every year in memory of her son Nathan.
Heidi had everything ready for her baby boy and travelled home from Germany, where she was based in the army, for her maternity leave.
‘I was shocked and devastated! You have no idea how it feels to bury your own child until you have been through it yourself.”
Heidi’s due date was only a couple of weeks away.
She says: “I had suffered with sickness and heartburn but nothing out of the ordinary for a pregnant woman.
“It was May 1998 and the bank holiday was one of the most exciting weekends. Unfortunately, the excitement quickly became heartbreak.
“Walking around the local extravaganza festival I saw a lot friends who touched my baby bump, saying ‘not long until the big arrival’.
“Little did I, myself, or they know the arrival would be the most heartbreaking day of my life.”
Heidi, who is now a police officer, didn’t find out the sex of her baby but everything was prepared, even the names.
Olivia for a girl and Nathan for a boy.
After a well – spent weekend with family and friends, she settled for the night watching the film Con Air with a Chinese takeaway feeling ‘tired but excited.’
Her baby was kicking as if he was ‘scoring for his dream team’ but it was unusual when he didn’t wake his mum up at 6am, as usual.
“Something felt wrong that Monday morning, my mum rang the midwife and she was there in no time with her equipment.
“She was there but my babies’ heartbeat was not.
“The midwife and my family were trying to be positive, but I knew something was very, very wrong.
“At the hospital I was on the scan machine and the doctor looked at me sympathetically and told me my baby’s heart had stopped beating.
“I felt as if my heart was a dartboard and someone had just thrown a dart straight through it.
”To this day, that is the most heartbreaking day of my life.”
After being prescribed drugs to speed the labour up, Heidi gave birth naturally to her son, Nathan, on May 5 1998.
A post mortem revealed the cord had twisted and stopped his supply of oxygen.
Heidi remembers: “The birth was exhausting physically and emotionally.
“I kept thinking and praying that they might have got it wrong.
“I woke up to my mum holding this beautiful baby with dark thick hair.
“But they hadn’t got it wrong my baby didn’t cry.”
In 2010 Heidi ran the London Marathon raising money for SANDS.
The charity aims to improve the care of bereaved parents and promote research in order to reduce the statistics of still births.
The annual Lights of Love services are held annually.
This year a sequence of thirteen ‘lights of love’ will run across the UK.
The services will take place in Huddersfield, London, Scotland, Nottingham, Northern Ireland, Wales, Liverpool, Guernsey, Exeter, Durham and Wearside, Warrington and Scarborough.
Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands, said: “The death of a baby or loved one is difficult at any time of the year.
“At Christmas, with so much emphasis on children and families sharing happy times together, the feelings of grief can often seem overwhelming.
“The welcoming atmosphere provides the perfect setting for a candlelit service and an opportunity of peace and reflection to remember loved ones who are no longer with us.”
Heidi, now a mother of two girls and her beloved son Nathan, has previously attended the event.
She says: “Without SANDS I would not have got through my grief they supported me in every way possible.
“Christmas is the happiest time of the year but for some it is a time where you remember loved ones.
“The Lights of Love service helps you to share your thoughts with people that have experienced the same thing.
“I think it’s nice because still birth remains a taboo subject and you think you are the only one going through it but the Lights of Love service makes you realise you are not.
“This year me and my two daughters hope to attend to ignite a light for our angel.”
The services are a family friendly event that includes singing Christmas carols, reading and musical performances.
All services are free to attend and will take place at 19:30 on Friday December 9th Warrington service is held at Bethel Free Church, Cotswold Road, Orford, Warrington, WA2 9SE.
For more information visit the SANDS website.