Bereaved Nottingham parents support hospice appeal
Twin Sophia Stevenson lost her battle with Sepsis when she was one month old. She died at our hospice.
Her parents, Ian and Becky, faced the devastating heartache of saying goodbye to their baby just three years after their first child, Charlie, who was conceived by IVF, was born sleeping at 37 weeks.
Sophia and Isabella, the couple’s ‘Rainbow Babies’ were born on Monday 27 November 2017 following a fifth cycle of IVF. Both girls were happy and developing well. Then on Saturday 16 December, Ian found himself rushing a tiny Sophia to hospital. She hadn’t been well that day and had taken a turn for the worse. Becky stayed at home with Bella.
Sophia’s condition rapidly deteriorated and she was admitted to Intensive Care with Sepsis.
“I had to call Becky to tell her the heart-breaking news that we might have to say goodbye to Sophia, and that she needed to get to hospital immediately,” said Ian. “It was touch and go for her, we were literally living hour by hour. We also had the added worry of getting Bella checked in case she had the same infection.”
Sophia’s scans revealed a devastating brain injury and medics suspected she wouldn’t be able to breathe once her ventilator was switched off.
“We were sat waiting for our daughter to die. We had a last cuddle with her on the ventilator and then it was turned off, but she carried on breathing with no signs of distress,” said Ian. “The doctors couldn’t believe it. But we knew we still didn’t have long with our baby.”
It was then that Ian and Becky were told about Rainbows and the service it provided for babies, children and young people needing end of life care. “Becky told a nurse that she wanted to take our girls and run away from the hospital. She told us about Rainbows. We arrived at the hospice late in the evening of December 20th and everything was a blur,” said Ian. “But as soon as we walked through the door, a massive weight was taken from our shoulders because of conversations we had with the doctors at Rainbows. We were able to sleep that night, knowing Sophia was cared for. At Rainbows, Sophia was no longer a patient, but was our baby again. We had no one doing tests and taking her away from us at all.
“We honestly cannot praise Rainbows and the staff enough. We knew Sophia was going to die but it was such a special time. We made so many memories. We did hand and feet casts and prints and played. One time we all fell asleep together in the Multisensory Room watching Home Alone, it was very special.
“Because we had rushed to Rainbows from the hospital, Becky and myself had left our own medication there but that was taken care of. They also got gifts for Becky when they found out it was her birthday. It is those little things that made all of the difference. We never wanted for anything.
“Both girls got to see Santa at the hospice and we had a special Christmas lunch. The girls were given Christmas presents and there were even presents for me and Becky from the girls.”
Sophia died on Wednesday 27 December and then spent time in our Bereavement Suite. “We knew that staff visited her all of the time and that meant the world to us, to know she wasn’t alone,” said Ian. “We were supported so much with her funeral and all of the arrangements and Becky continues to receive counselling support now.”
Ian and Becky decided very quickly that they wanted to give something back to us because we helped them through the most difficult time. “For want of a better word, Rainbows made it easy for us,” said Ian. “We didn’t have to think of anything and nothing for us to worry about. All we had to do was look after our girls, everything else Rainbows did for us. The memories we made were priceless. We can’t pay back for them but we can help to do it for someone else.”
The couple set up a special ‘Much Loved’ webpage, which is dedicated to Sophia’s memory. “It is somewhere people can donate to in memory of Sophia and we can see all of the donations that have come in,” said Ian. “It is also a timeline for us where we can record details of our journey and share photographs of the girls and it will be something that will be good for Bella when she is older.
“We called Sophia our little monkey, she was so small and still had some fur on her back. She absolutely adored Bella and was always trying to cuddle her. She also loved her Ewan the Sheep sleep aid, so much so that we left him with her.
“We dedicated a plaque to Sophia in the Remembrance Garden at Rainbows. They also did a plaque for Charlie, even though they had never met him. That meant the world to us. We can never thank Rainbows enough for everything they have done for us but hopefully we can raise much needed donations through Sophia’s Much Loved page and we can help other families at their toughest times.”
Anyone can set up a Much Loved in memory page. To find out how, visit rainbows.co.uk/gifts-memory