A unique charity helped Josh and Grace Brandwood cope with the loss of their first child. Josh tells FIONA FINCH why it’s now time to raise funds and say thank you to the charity and hospital staff.
Josh Brandwood had never heard of The Tigerlily Trust.
If asked he would no doubt say he never, ever, wanted to.
But the Trust was there to help him and his future wife through the most devastating time in their life.
Now he is getting ready to say a special thank you to the Cumbrian based charity.
Josh will hold a sponsored sleep out in Dalton Square, Lancaster on October 19 and said: “Tigerlily Trust helped my wife and I when we needed it most. We want to raise as much money possible so they can continue helping other families.”
Without the help of the Trust and staff at their local hospital Josh knows they would be in a desolate place.
Grief hit the Lancaster couple unexpectedly as they looked forward to the birth of their first child.
Josh explained: “Last year my partner and I were met with the tragic news that our baby Hope wouldn’t survive pregnancy. Our baby had a condition called encephalocele, meaning that the skull didn’t form properly giving baby no chance of survival.
“It has been an emotional rollercoaster, but we are incredibly thankful and grateful for the help and support we have received from both the Royal Lancaster Hospital and Tigerlily Trust.”
He continued: “2017 was an exceptionally difficult year, adding to my ongoing issue with anxiety and depression.”
But at first there was joy: “At the beginning of 2017, my partner and I received wonderful news that we were going to be parents! For those who have received baby news you will know the excitement we felt.
“We were so excited and could not contain our joy so we told our families and friends. It gave me a real sense of purpose.”
“The day soon arrived when my partner and I got to see our little baby for the 12-week-scan. We dressed up especially for our little baby, I wore a suit and my partner wore a lovely dress.
As we apprehensively sat in the waiting room at the Lancaster Royal Infirmary (RLI) my partner and I discussed baby names.”
He recalls in detail the day that changed their lives: “We were called into the radiography unit by a lovely nurse who then introduced us to the baby sonographer and finally we could see our baby. However, it was not good news. We were told that our lovely baby would not survive childbirth.
“My partner and I were placed into the “grievance room” and a medical consultant gave us a detailed prognosis whilst tears fell down my partner’s face. I was completely numb.”
The couple were referred to St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester for a second opinion. Josh said: “We were simply in denial and did not want to accept that we would lose our baby. Our fears were confirmed after our appointment in Manchester, so we decided that the best course of action was to accept a medical management procedure at the RLI. Witnessing my partner give birth to our beloved baby is the most harrowing experience I have ever endured. I simply choke up thinking about it.”
For Josh , a former town councillor, the loss was a severe blow to his mental health. He said: “After the medical management, I tried to remain strong for my partner as she was so brave and deserved somebody to reassure her everything would be OK. However, the experience triggered my depression and I simply did not want to be here any longer.
“All sense of purpose was removed the minute I learned that my partner and I would lose our baby. I simply could not cope. Upon reflection, I think how incredibly selfish I was for contemplating suicide when my partner needed me most. At the time I was not thinking rationally, but why would I?
“Our baby had been taken away and there was nothing that could be done to reverse the situation.”
It was the support of the hospital staff and a special pack, provided by Tigerlily , which helped Josh and Michelle so much. The pack was a visible acknowledgement of the grief they were feeling, their love for their child and the journey of healing which would follow.
Josh recalled: “Whilst at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary a nurse brought us a miscarriage care package complete with keepsake items that allow my partner and I to reflect and pay tribute to our beloved lost son.
“Tigerlily Trust is a charity providing tangible symbols of remembrance for parents bereaved through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. I would like to show our gratitude to this wonderful organisation. ...I don’t think the awareness is out there of the great work they do.”
Josh said:“We’ll never forget Hope, absolutely not.”
The couple are looking to the future:and Josh also has good news to share: “Since our tragic experience, my partner and I have since married and become parents to a beautiful healthy boy, Noah. We are incredibly thankful to be parents .”
Tigerlily, which is based in Grange Over Sands, was set up by bereaved parent Val Isherwood whose only child Lily was stillborn.
The charity’s website notes: “We are passionate about helping to break the silence surrounding baby loss, and uniting people travelling this often very lonely path. Many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss. We want this to change. Our sincerest wish is to share with women, their partners, family and friends ways to navigate this process of grieving and to ultimately promote healing.”
To sponsor Josh’s sleepover see www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tigerlilytrustfund