The Daniel Barnett Arts Foundation is a charity that provides a form of grief therapy through the use of art. Bereavement affects everyone when a child is lost for whatever reason and some babies are born sleeping. SANDS, the UK’s biggest stillbirth and neonatal death charity, have their own unique ways of helping people to deal with this kind of loss.
To tell us more about SANDS and the amazing work they do we spoke to South Yorkshire based couple Kim and Dean.
1) Could you tell us a little bit about your story and how you came to be involved with SANDS?
We found out things weren’t “the way that they should be” at our second scan, which was at sixteen weeks. We were informed that there was little to no amniotic fluid surrounding our baby.
From this point on I was no longer allowed to go to work so my husband Dean went on to working night shifts so he could be with me in the day and my Mum stayed with me at night.
Even though things were very hard and we knew that the outcome did not look favourable for us, we tried hard to create as many good memories as we could during my pregnancy. I would feel kicks of happiness from my baby while I was in the bath or certain songs played and I had cravings for wafer thin ham and Millie’s Cookies. These memories are so special to us and we hold them close.
Throughout everything that was going on our little one was a fighter and astounded specialists who called our baby a miracle. We don’t know exactly when my waters broke (the medical professionals believe it will have happened slowly and gradually) but even with very little amniotic fluid our baby continued to grow perfectly and move around. We had the opportunity to listen to a strong heartbeat, which sounded just like a horse running, and I was put on steroids to help our baby’s lung development.
We knew that when I reached the twenty four week point of my pregnancy we would be referred to Jessops Hospital in Sheffield. There we would be able to get more understanding of the implications the complications may have caused and the struggles our little one may have. At this point we would have had to make some incredibly difficult decisions – ones which we would have never been able to make. But we believe that our little one knew what was best for him.
In the middle of November 2018 Dean rushed me to hospital after losing my placenta at home and we learned the baby’s heart beat was getting weaker. All we could do was wait – either a little one would appear or the heartbeat would fade away. Our angel chose the latter and we received the news that no parent ever wants to hear.
On 19th November 2018 at 6.40pm, I gave birth to Brayden Shay Broadhead. We became Mummy and Daddy to a beautiful little boy who weighed 1lb 1oz. He was a baby, our baby and we wouldn’t have him any other way.
We stayed with our little boy in the Rainbow Room at Barnsley Hospital for three days. He slept in a cuddle cot and was christened there. We dressed him, sang to him, read to him. All the things a parent should get to do, we did, with all the love and pride in the world.
It was in the Rainbow Room that we were given a pack from SANDS. It contained information for parents, grandparents and even our employers. That was when we found our new family in SANDS.
- How have SANDS supported you?
SANDS have been amazing and supported us in so many ways. We have attended meetings where we have learned all about our “new normal”. At the meetings we have met other people who could relate to our journey and genuinely understood what we were going through. The meetings and the SANDS community as a whole have online Facebook groups so that you can speak to someone 24/7. These groups are also really helpful as some things feel very hard to say out loud.
SANDS also have 28 football teams across the UK. These football teams are a place where men who have experienced the loss of a child can come together and play in honour of their baby. Dean plays for SANDS United Doncaster and feels that the support he has received from the team has really helped him to open up about Brayden and the things we have experienced.
Overall I think SANDS has helped us to feel that we are not alone. In the darkest times we found that we now belonged to a new family. A family that no one wants to belong to but when you do they are there for you through thick and thin. You have a bond with them that will never be broken and nobody outside of that family will ever understand. SANDS has taught us that people are allowed to grieve in their own way. It’s not strange or weird for people to think their little one is with them, whether that is in the sight of a robin, the sound of a wind chime or even in the brightness of a sun flower. It is a way to keep their baby’s memory alive. People should feel comfortable to celebrate it with them and embrace how they would like their baby to be remembered.
- How can people get involved with helping SANDS?
The most important thing you can do is talk about SANDS as word of mouth is so powerful. Help to break the silence and speak to people about the children they have lost. Our babies are still our babies and we want to talk about them, SANDS is a beautiful place to do that. We love to hear their name! We tell people we have one little boy called Brayden and we are a Mummy and a Daddy, a family of three. We are a puzzle with three pieces, it’s just that one piece is so special only we can see it.
To help SANDS you could support the football teams and attend matches, which take place every weekend. You could even sponsor your favourite player! You could also host a positive celebration event to raise money for SANDS. We have done a Colour Dash race and held a Peaky Blinders themed ball to raise money for SANDS and other charities that supported us. The events also allowed us to create new memories involving our little boy. You could also volunteer to help out at one of the regular events that SANDS run in remembrance of our baby’s or you could offer to run a workshop to create something in memory of our little ones.
For more information please visit sands.org.uk.