A year ago today, our beautiful third child, Josie Jean, was born sleeping at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. I wrote about her short, tumultuous journey in this space a few days after the event.
Today, I want to mark her first heavenly birthday by writing about her. You see, even though Josie didn’t reach term, she has had an impact on the world. That first blog about our gorgeous girl has been read more than 250 times and continues to pick up “hits” 12 months on. This brings me comfort; yes, writing it all down was cathartic, but I also hoped that by telling our story I might offer a crumb of comfort to other families going through similar trauma, or provide inspiration to the odd student midwife. Every time someone new reads my blog about Josie, it keeps her memory alive.
Then there’s the good she’s inspired in us and our family and friends.
During the 2021 Baby Loss Awareness Week, Prescot Cables FC, for whom I’ve volunteered at various times over the last four years, held a bucket collection ahead of their home game with Widnes, raising more than £200 for the Honeysuckle Team; a group of specialist midwives who support families in situations like ours. The match programme that evening was also a wonderful effort in terms of raising awareness of the issues surrounding baby loss; not only did the Editor indulge me and allow my regular column to become a Bob Geldof-style appeal to “give us yer [expletive deleted] money!”, but there were also various resources published by the Women’s Hospital included too. My family back in Surrey had previously made a donation to the Honeysuckle Team in Josie’s name; these aren’t world-changing sums, but hopefully, they’ll help a little.
Josie also inspired a quite remarkable act of generosity by my wife. After her birth, Josie had been dressed in the most exquisite, tiny gown. These aren’t something you can buy; angel babies are usually provided with an outfit that’s been made by a volunteer. So, Steph decided to donate her wedding dress to Wirral Wings, so they could do just that. As you’ll see below, they did something beautiful for us in return.
As we mark Josie’s first angel birthday, I don’t want to talk about grief, although it has been ever-present. I want to emphasise the good things that have happened over the last 12 months and finish with a word for Liverpool Women’s Hospital, which has been in the news for an entirely different reason recently. We’ve remained in contact with the hospital over the course of the year and not just through the Honeysuckle Team. We’re working with Genetics, in order to learn more about what happened to Josie and whichever department we’ve worked with has been incredibly professional, talented and compassionate. I’ve no idea why (or even if) the Women’s Hospital was targeted on Remembrance Sunday, but I do know that it is a wonderful resource, which the local area is truly lucky to have. Just as our family is lucky to have Josie in it.