A grieving mother talked about the precious month she spent with her stillborn daughter, reading her stories, singing songs and introducing her to friends and family – thanks to a chilled one
Amy Dutch was allowed to take her daughter Alicia-Mae home while she was planning the funeral after she was born on April 18 of this year at just 26 weeks and weighing a tiny 1.7 pounds.
Amy Dutch, 25, was able to use a “cuddle bed” for her daughter after the stillbirth
The 25-year-old mother first said access to the special cot, which has a built-in cooling mattress to stop deterioration, allowed her to make “endless memories” including hours of reading Star Wars storybooks they take for themselves walks around the house, as well as swings and singing
‘You Are My Sunshine’ for her precious baby – a song that was later played at her funeral.
Amy, who lives in London, was also able to take a lot of photos and above all she slept next to her deceased baby for weeks – first in the hospital and later in her family’s house.
The special cooling system of the cot enables grieving parents to spend time with stillborn babies that they might not otherwise have had.
Due to Covid restrictions, she spent most of her pregnancy apart from her baby’s fatherCredit: Delivered
“The whole pregnancy I was fixated on this picture, how I fell asleep around a Moses basket on my bed and then woke up with my baby crying,” Amy told Fabulous.
“This picture will never be complete, but the fact that I could still make half of it come true warmed parts of my heart that I thought died with Alicia-Mae.
“I know that the thought of someone staying in the house with a dead baby may not be everyone’s idea of comfort, but I think we all handle grief differently.”
Amy, who sells handmade items online, spent her time sewing a decent size diaper and dress for little Alicia to wear for her daughter.
The 25-year-old discovered in Turkey that she was with her boyfriend Emced Rihavi. was pregnantCredit: Delivered
It was Amy’s first baby after getting pregnant in NovemberCredit: Delivered
“When I brought her home, I could change her clothes and blankets and be an active mother,” said Amy.
“I now have photos of my little girl in my bedroom and that just fills me with joy. There was something tremendously comforting to see her at home among her things, where she belonged. Your trip felt more complete. “
Amy discovered in late November last year that she was pregnant while living in Turkey, working for an animal welfare organization, and living with boyfriend Emced Rihavi.
She said, “When these pink lines came up on the pregnancy test, I was so excited and immediately made arrangements to go back to England for Christmas and tell everyone.
“I was only planning on going back for two weeks and then going back to Turkey to spend early pregnancy with Emced and my dogs before finally coming back a few months later to have the baby.”
But due to Covid, Amy’s return flight to Turkey was canceled and air traffic did not resume until she was six months pregnant and unable to fly. As a refugee and unable to travel by herself, Emced and Amy spent most of the pregnancy apart.
Amy said, “The pregnancy was difficult, but beautiful. I was sick all the time, not a day without vomiting at least once. I had sciatica and mood swings and suspected preeclampsia.
“Our baby was growing fast and well, she was active, and when I found out she was a girl during the 20-week check-up, I loved it.”
I held my breath and waited for her to cry, hoping that they were somehow wrong. She was beautiful, every inch of her
It wasn’t until Amy was 26 weeks pregnant that something was wrong.
“Alicia hasn’t moved that much in a few hours and I couldn’t quite pinpoint the last time I remembered her moving properly,” she said.
“I’ve talked to friends and family and they’ve all assured me that I’m just imagining things. I had an appointment with my midwife the next day
In any case, I decided to wait until then. “
When the midwife could not detect a heartbeat, Amy was hospitalized for the emergency room with her mother by her side the entire time.
Amy was told by midwives that there was no heartbeatCredit: Delivered
“We were shown into a small, dark scan room,” recalls Amy. “We started the scan in silence and I watched my baby appear on the screen, so still.
“One of the midwives clutched my leg when they found her chest and zoomed in to see no heartbeat.
“These words never leave you when you really say them: ‘There is no heartbeat’. Suddenly I was pushed into a world that nobody wants to know existed.
“I still had to go to the labor department of the hospital and deliver my baby as usual, but with the most heartbreaking difference – she wouldn’t cry or open her eyes or come home with me forever. ”
These words never leave you when they are actually told to you: “There is no heartbeat”
After nine hours of labor, Alicia-Mae was born shortly after midnight on April 18 at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell.
“She was put in my arms and the whole world stopped,” said Amy. “I held my breath and waited for her to cry, hoping that they were somehow wrong. She was beautiful, every inch of her.
“I spent four days with her next to my bed in the hospital. I felt so connected to this beautiful little girl that I had created that I wanted to show her to the world. “
After leaving the hospital, Amy visited her daughter at the funeral home daily until over a week later she felt unwell and was bedridden with the flu and unable to visit.
Amy wants more mothers to know about the Snuggle Bed optionCredit: Delivered
A mourning midwife lends Amy a cozy bed so she can take her baby home with her for the last 12 days before the funeral.
The snuggly bed was placed next to Amy’s bed so she could sleep next to Alicia like in the hospital. She was able to video call Emced in Turkey so he could see his daughter.
Amy said, “There is nothing that can relieve the pain of losing a baby, but the gift of time is incredibly important.”
Amy is determined to make sure more women know that snuggly beds are an option and to make sure these facilities are available across the country. She is about to start a charity to reach out to women like her.
Alicia was cremated and Amy plans to add her ashes to her own when she dies so they can “rest” together.
Amy was able to take her daughter home with her after her deathCredit: Delivered
Amy is British but lives in TurkeyCredit: Delivered
A spokesman for King’s College Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust said their snuggly beds were donated to the hospital by charity 4Louis.
“Snuggle beds can help parents take their baby home during one of the most difficult times in their lives as they deal with the devastating effects of stillbirth or late miscarriage.
“All of the parents we look after who lose a baby after 24 weeks have the option of taking their baby home with them if they wish. It enables families to spend longer with their baby in the comfort of their own home and create precious memories outside of the hospital setting.
“Many parents say the experience helps them come to terms with their loss.”
Amy is now collecting donations for more cozy beds in memory of her daughter. Here you can donate for the cause.
Jen Coates, Director of Bereavement Support at Sands, said, “For parents whose baby was stillborn or who died shortly after birth, a snuggly bed can help sustain their baby and give them valuable time together to give a chance to make memories; dress the baby, take a picture or just stay around.
This can make a huge difference to helping with their families
Loss. It is important that more parents know they can take their baby home, and children’s hospices and some funeral homes can lend a family a snuggly bed or special cooling unit to help
Sands is here to support everyone affected by the death of a baby. The Sands free helpline is available on 0808 164 3332 Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. You can also email [email protected] for assistance.