Danielle and Chris

‘I know he’s not here but he’s still my son’

Chris’ full interview

Click on the orange timecode reference (e.g. 0.00) to skip to that part of the interview.

0.00 My name’s Chris and I’m Mason’s dad. He was born on the 5th of July 2015 at the local hospital.

0.08 Can you tell me how you and Danielle met and got together?

0.12 Yeah, it was… it was a bit of a while ago now – ‘cause I was actually with someone before… that I went to school with up in… up here. And, we… I met her through a friend in Bolton and we went out – just to, you know, just to a club and that – and when I met her I knew that – I know it sounds a bit cringe but – that she was the one for me and… there was something about her that, I don’t know, I just wanted, you know, just that family… ‘cause I’d been in a long term relationship I do like that comfort and just with her, I just felt something warm… she was kind and… so anyway, I got her number. Never really see her ‘cause we were… I told her everything, because obviously at the time, I just split with my ex and I needed a bit of time on my own to sort of… find myself really because if someone splits – especially because I was young – you, sort of… well, I’d never lived on my own or nothing like that and… So, I had a bit of time off on my own and… Danielle wouldn’t meet me – ‘cause I lived up North she lived down South and every time we’d try and arrange to meet we was busy or if I said meet, she wouldn’t meet me and… I didn’t think I was that bad but she’s a…  She didn’t want to see me and that and then… So, about a year and a half down the line we went for a… we went for a coffee – and this was down South – and I still had the same feelings for her. And it just went from there really. We met on holiday with friends, like, I took my brother, like my friends and all that and she went with hers. I see her there and that was it really. When we come back – it was from Marbella – when we come back from there we sort of… just sort of spent time together and then she come up to visit – only at weekends – and then ‘cause her job was coming to an end, she come up full-time then, and that was it really. And now it’s been over five years.

2.01 Tell me what your attitude to starting a family was.

2.06 I’ve always… I’m from a big family myself, so as a kid… I would have had kids at 17. People always say, are you ready? I don’t know, I’m not even ready now and I’ve… I’ve got, you know… you can never say you’re ready. I think what people worry about is the financial side of things, but that was never a problem, you know, it was more: I would have had them at seventeen but I knew… I’d never really found the one, you know, but with Dan… I don’t know there was something there that I just knew I wanted and that was it. It was very nerve wracking because obviously bringing someone into the world – especially that’s got you in them – it was kind of, a bit of a… even now it’s a bit… bit weird, you know, knowing that she’s half of me… and also my son, you know, but… I don’t know it’s just something that I’ve, I’ve always wanted. Like I say, I’ve got four brothers and sisters; I’ve got two, two nephews; I got so many cousins… like, me granddad was one of 13, you know, from a big family so I knew that I wanted a big… wanted a family… and that was it. I think Dan – because Dan’s younger than me – she was a bit, you know… wasn’t sure when or how or… you know. But, you know, we’re here now and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

3.24 Can you tell me about Danielle’s pregnancy with Mason, what was that like?

3.29 Well, when… I remember when she told me, to be honest. I was in… I was in the cinema watching a film. And, she comes in – and I don’t know if all blokes can relate to me – she went, can I speak to you? So, I thought I’d done something wrong. And as she… I was like, oh no, what have I done? I’m thinking, have I been out? Do you know what I mean? Thinking, what have I done? Have I left dirty socks somewhere or…? She’s gone, can I speak to you? I’ve gone, yep. We’ve gone upstairs and obviously I was panicking I was thinking, oh… and she just went listen – well, she actually showed me the stick. You know the… I don’t know what you call it, like, the pregnancy stick and I think it had two lines on or something like that and I was like, I don’t know what that means. So she was like, well, it’s saying I’m pregnant. And, I was like, yeah? And she was like, well, how do you feel? I was like, I’m fine with it, you know, and I think that sort of reassured that her I was fine. I think she was more worried about me. And that was it really.

4.20 It was more… obviously we wasn’t… we didn’t know what was going to happen… but, yeah, it was brilliant, it was… She had quite bad morning sickness – it was called, but it was like all day… she had really bad morning sickness with him, she’d wake up hungry and she used to nibble on crackers: I can hear her nibbling on crackers, like a little mouse… But no, it was… like you say, it’s one of them that… When your, when your wife’s pregnant it’s brilliant, d’you know what I mean… ‘cause you get excited and… To be honest I got all the stuff early; I bought everything early, you know like… And obviously it was all boy stuff so I got – to be fair, I do like the neutral colours, you know, I like the… I got a few blue bits, but mainly it was white and stuff like that, and you know like your browns and creams and that. But, yeah, we got everything early and little did we know that was going to… you know, it was going to happen to him, but it’s… But even till this day, you know, the pregnancy was brilliant. Yeah, I know I didn’t meet him, but it was brilliant because he, he obviously knew me… heard me because I used to always talk to him and play him music – like I did to Melina now.

5.26 Do you… do you remember what sort of antenatal care she received during that pregnancy? What, what kind of… what happened in the hospital or the people that she saw? Did you go with her for that, or…?

5.36 Yeah, I went to a few, but obviously ‘cause I was training, doing my own sort of thing, it was sort of something that, I tried to go as much as I can which, you know… But to be honest I didn’t know anything. I just thought, you know – especially a bloke – I don’t know if anyone knew about it, but… after – I think it’s like the 12 week thing – and we were past that and I thought, oh everything’s sweet, d’you know what I mean? It was like then the next thing was to find out what it was. And obviously being a bloke, you always wish for a boy – and… I can’t remember… I think it must have been 20 weeks… or something like that… we found out the sex obviously of him and it was a boy and it was like, you know what I mean, just put the little cherry on top. D’you know what I mean of… that? But, regarding what she… no, it was just, you know, I’m guessing just your normal checkups, you know your… they check if the growth is okay, the… I think they start checking when it gets bigger when the, the lungs and things like that are working that you see the heartbeat and stuff, yeah…

6.30 And… what did you know about stillbirth at that time?

6.34 Nothing. Nothing at all. Even my friend, I went to his son’s funeral – which was a stillbirth, as well – but I still didn’t know anything about it. It’s was something that I’ve never sort of… not heard of, it’s just that I… I guess, I never really, sort of, looked into it, or anything like that, because I was so oblivious to it, to be honest… Yeah, that’s all I can say about it really, because it’s something that you don’t really hear about. You just feel like, when they’re born there’s obviously been a problem or… they was ill… something like that, d’you know what I mean? But then to find out – especially with Mace – that there was nothing wrong. That’s the main problem – not the problem, sorry – but that’s the main sort of… I don’t get angry about it, but it’s the main sort of… question mark; the sort of the… the blurriness of…why?

7.26 If, if someone said, listen, there was x, y, z or… I could sort of, you know, sort of, not put it to bed, but, sort of, feel more at ease knowing that he was ill, or that he had this sort of… I don’t know whether you call it like disease or, I don’t know. But to know he was absolutely fine, and to see him looking like… He was the double of my daughter being born, but just… she was a bigger version. You know he had… everyone, I know they all have blue eyes, but he had black hair, blue eyes, you know… everything that was normal and even like the… because this is when it happened… Danielle said it was okay for him to be, sort of, I don’t know… is it like tested on or examined at another private hospital, so that’s when obviously I had to pay to see what they could find and it was just nothing. It was… basically everything was fine, his organs, his umbilical cord, everything, you know… and that’s what, sort of, I find hard, do you know what I mean? Because like if I had a choice, you know what I mean? Because a friend of mine had a choice because the baby was making the mother ill, you know? You know, I could have a choice. But this, I didn’t have a choice and… I didn’t know anything about it, at all. And that was it really, yeah. I didn’t know anything.

8.45 When in the pregnancy with Mason did you realise that something was wrong? Can you tell me about that?

8.50 Yeah, we went to Tenerife with all our friends; there was loads of us went over there. And we were flying back – and me and Dan aren’t good fliers anyway, any bit of turbulence we’re screaming, I hate it… I get sweaty and – I think that night, it was a Thursday, we landed – it might have been Thursday afternoon – everything was fine… And I woke up Friday morning. So on Friday morning, I went to the gym with my friend to do my workout. But in the morning, Dan was like, oh – at this point… I think, no we didn’t name him – Dan just went, oh he’s been quiet last night. So, I was joking just saying, oh he’s got jet lag – even though I don’t think there’s no time difference – but just saying, he’s got jet lag. Thinking nothing of it, just thinking that, you know, Dan… you know…

9.34 So a lot of people they have a little headache and they think it’s a, you know, a real migraine… so, you know what I mean? So I just thought it was over exaggeration or… So I went to the gym and I had a funny feeling… I even said to my trainer – that’s what’s weird, because even my trainer talks about it now, he’ll just… I just went, I’ve got a funny feeling and I don’t know why… so, anyway, I did me set and my phone went off. So I answered it and Dan just said, Chris can you come to the hospital… I think she… no, she told me she was going for a check-up, sorry. She said, listen, I’m going in for a check-up just to make sure everything’s alright. That’s when I turned to – and this was about half ten – and I just turned to me trainer and I just went, listen I’m going to go to the hospital. I got a funny feeling. And then literally Dan rings me when I’m pulling into the hospital just saying, where are you? And in tears… and that’s when I sort of knew something had gone wrong.

10.17 And I just literally slammed my car outside – I know I shouldn’t – I just pulled it outside; left the car; left the keys and everything… and there’s a lady in the door and she just said, I take it you’re Chris, I went, yeah. And she went… And that’s when I sort of – just looking at her body language – that’s when I thought, yeah, something had happened. I, I guessed… you know, don’t take… but I guessed he had passed away, but I didn’t… I thought there was… maybe because of the flight or something like that or… But, yeah, that was it.

10.44 And I just remember going in there, seeing her and it was more a fact of… seeing her in that sort of… pain. And I couldn’t take it off her. Do you get what I mean? It don’t matter what I done, ‘cause, it… like as a man like, people… men tend to, oh, get all macho and smash up a room and it’s pointless because it don’t do nothing. You know, you’ve got to look at it as like, you’ve got a woman here that’s in bits, how are you going to support her and…? I didn’t know what to say. I just cuddled her, you know? And then obviously I spoke to her… I thought I’d better speak to her mum and dad, so I rung them outside. I went outside; I spoke to them, because obviously I was the man, so I thought, you know, it’s a man-sort-of-thing to do. And then I rung my family, rung me mum and that, and explained… well, me mum knew because she’s a nurse anyway… and that was it really. That’s… and then obviously that’s where you sort of… we went in a room and that’s when they explain, sort of, what’s… the next procedure and things like that.

11.39 Do you remember what you were feeling at that time?

11.42 Nothing, just numbness. Just thinking, what the…? You know, like… a bit dreamy a bit airy, nothing. It was just like, what the…? You can’t explain… I don’t know; it’s weird. It’s not like anger because it’s more like confusion. More like, why me? D’you know what I mean? More like what have I done? You know, there’s people out there that… you know, have kids and they rape people, There are pedophiles out there and things like this… and I’m a nice person and this has happened. I just couldn’t understand it. And that… Still, still now, I still I think like that. You know, you see these families that are abusing kids and things like that… but then someone who’s here, with, with my partner, waiting to give them a loving home and caring home and that happens, you’re just sort of left confused. Left a bit confused. And this is when… because I’ve always…

12.28 Not that I’m religious, but I’ve always believed in stuff. You know, I’ve always believed in someone’s looking after me, and which… which I have, you know I’ve always… and if I’ve ever needed it, you know… I’ve been to church and things like that… and at this point I was questioning everything. I was thinking, well what, what have you done this for? You know what… Because I believe he was in control of it and, you know, people say things happen for a reason and I just didn’t… still to now I don’t understand why it happened. I do believe other things happen for reasons and, you know, you have a path through life but this, I just… even ‘til now I just don’t understand why. But then one day I’ll see him… I believe, you know, one day I’m going to see him again.

13.04 You know and that’s why I, I sort of, I put into a sort of positive mood that I’m going to see him. I don’t go into a negative; I don’t cry; I don’t… you know, take me anger out on anything, because I believe one day I’m going to see him… whether it will be 10 years, 50 years, 100 years; I’m going to see him. And that’s how I look at it. I tend to look at it like that and I’ll see him and that’s when I’ll have my time with him. And just because he’s not here in physical; I believe he’s here, you know, in – I don’t know what you call it – you know, like, his… his soul and that’s here; hundred percent, yeah. So that’s how I try, and try and do… because I’m a positive person as well, so I try and put it in that positive light and I try and give that to Dan as well.

13.46 But obviously Dan, ‘cause… It’s a lot harder for women to deal with this, a lot harder, because they’ve had to bond with the baby in their stomachs and you know they get that special bond, you know? And that’s something that a man don’t understand till the baby’s out, you know, living. And with Mace – and obviously a lot of other people, you know – as a male, not having that time to spend with them, you know, you do feel a bit… you don’t understand everything what women are going through, even till now. You know, women are different to men. And I don’t understand women at the best of times, so, you know, through this it was… you know, even now, like, Dan will sort of talk to her mum and have the sort girly chats… but if she wants to talk I’m there for her, but I not… I tend to try and look on the positives, do you know what I mean? Because if you look on the negatives and you talk about it, you end up banging your head against a wall, asking why all the time and for me it’s… It’s not wasting time, but you’re just sort of wasting energy that, you know, you can focus on, you know… Because he is looking down on us. He’s proud, d’you know what I mean? He’s… and one thing he wouldn’t do is you to constantly be sad about it ‘cause – like I said before – I believe we will see him again. I don’t know when that will be, but that’s what I believe in. A lot of people don’t believe in that. But that’s their life; this is mine, so…

15.04 Going… can I take you back to being in the hospital, and you, you said you came in and somebody told you what had happened…

15.11 Oh, they didn’t tell me.

15.12 Sorry, ok… sorry, so when you arrived at the hospital, somebody greeted you and then what happened?

15.17 No, they obviously guessed it was me, by obviously just… slamming me Jeep on outside, blocking the entrance… you know, they, they assumed, they guessed, well, it was pretty obvious it was me. And the lady just went, I take it you’re Chris? I was like, yeah. Didn’t say anything. I just went, where is she? Because, you know, you just get feelings, don’t you? I just had a feeling. And I gone in there and I just see her in a ball, you know, like in a… I just thought, oh no, like what? I’ve just got to be there. So I just go and cuddled her. And that was it really. That was it. That’s when I just… I just knew I had to just be there for her.

15.51 And what happened next? When you were taken into the room and it was explained to you what had happened, what happened after that?

15.58 Erm… I think I went in there and it was still shock because even Dan was like… to be fair it was me, I said to the lady… the midwife, I said, are you sure? Like, are you sure like he’s… he’s stopped breathing and that? I said, can’t you get the machine… cause you know he might be, because, you know, sometimes you know you go for scans and they look and they can’t find… and they be like, oh he’s a bugger now, you know… or she or…. you know, I just said like, are you sure? Because yesterday he was going nuts ‘cause he was always… even with Milena they were really big movers in, in Dan’s belly: you know, to the point where you could see – from early – would always move. Even now, like moving… she don’t stay still, you know, so, I just said… and then obviously she went, yeah and… that was it really. We sort of sat there in silence and then I think they just said right this is, bah, bah… this is what’s going to happen and then we drove home. And obviously we had separate cars, but I drove Dan with me and we left the other one there. But, yeah, that was… it’s kind of a blur, do you know what I mean? I didn’t really take a lot of it in.

17.00 Do you remember what you did in those days you were at home before you went back to the hospital?

17.06 No, no. It was sort of… I didn’t really want to know, to be honest. I just sort of shut myself off. It’s not a good way to be, but it’s just the way I’ve dealt with the way I feel… and if I’ve had problems in the past of, you know, of living away from home so young and stuff like that, you know, I’ve just sort of deal with stuff on my own. And it’s not a good thing to do, you know, because you need to be there for your partner, but… yeah, I just sort of… I don’t know really. I just made sure I was there for Dan because I didn’t know what was going to happen, you know, because when we went to the hospital, and stuff like that, because they was explaining she had to go on… I think she had to go on like tablet things to… is it induce? Induce her and stuff… things like that. You know, so we sort of checked in and… to be honest, like, when they started the course she… because we had a blessing; the reverend come in and blessed us before and then he said listen any time he comes I’ll come back. And it was the second tablet that… because they said, listen, the first one don’t really – it’s a course of three, so they call that the first one – the first course of three it don’t tend to happen, it’s normally the second, but between the two sets, I think you have to have, like a… I don’t how long the gap is… a 12 hour gap or 24 hour gap or something like that. And it was the second tablet she started… ‘cause she started going like, Chris it’s sore now. Do you know what I mean? I’m thinking, oh my God. But then obviously, with the gas and air she took, sort of took her – not mind off it – but sort of… she was in pain, but sort of took… I was the one that had to deal with it and that’s what… you know what I mean?

18.41 But to be… I know it sounds mad but, like, when he come out and that, Dan was still a bit… well high from the gas. And my family and Danielle’s family was at my house and they was driving. But like when, when sort of they’d gone, we had a bit of time – this is when we called him Mason – and we had a little… I guess it’s like a christening; we christened him. And… for the next couple of days – I know it sounds mad – but we… it was lovely. It was like he was there but you forget he was dead. D’you know what I mean? It was… it was… I don’t know how Dan feels about it but I thought it was lovely, you know, because it was out first experience of a family. And we’d sit there and he’d be with us and I know… you know, we’d sort of forget for a minute and we’d talk and… you know what I mean? You’d sort of forget and you’d think, oh my God we’ve got a family. And then, then it sort of hits you like, oh, he’s got to go again in like a day… forever. And that’s what, but seeing Dan… the thing what I never forget is seeing Dan hold him, crying on him; saying I’m sorry. You know, that’s something I’d never forget. Apologising to him and… It don’t matter how many times I say to her, listen, it’s not your fault. But she just – even probably now – she… she just kept saying sorry, like, and crying on him. That’s something that I… I never forget, you know and it’s not… I wish I could have taken the pain off her, and I took the blame… d’you know what I mean? But I couldn’t.

20.03 And that’s something that, as a man, you just feel like a bit of a failure because your missus is there crying and that, and you just feel like… you’re helpless, you know? And the main thing is just, sort of, just be there for each other, d’you know what I mean? And what I try to do is like obviously – yeah, it was really hard – but I tried to make her smile and try and, like I said, try and put a positive on it because he’s still our son. I don’t care if he’s not here or… He’d be my son ‘til well… forever, ain’t he? So, that’s the way I look at it… but it’s just the sort of looking at your, your missus like that, you know what I mean? It was tough. It was tough… yeah…

20.43 Do you remember the first moment that you saw him… what you felt? What you thought?

20.47 Yeah, it was like mad love, like. I just see his head of… like, black hair, like, just his little head. I just felt like love for him. D’you know what I mean? I just felt like, get off… you know, that protectiveness? But the problem is, I knew what we was there for. D’you know what I mean? It woudn’t… you know, if I’d, sort of, had some gas and air, it might have took my mind off it, but it wasn’t… I knew… I was more worried what I was going to see, to be honest… you know, because, like, as a man, like I’ve said to you, I don’t know nothing about babies, pregnancy; I knew nothing… so going into this, when I found out he was 20 weeks and he’d died, I’m thinking… I even asked the nurse. I said, listen, because I’m in there, am I going to see anything that’s going to really scar me? Because I don’t want to see, sort of, like, an undeveloped… like an alien-type looking thing, because it will scar me for life. I don’t want to… and she was like, nah.  She said this is a… he be… he just like small. Anyway when it come out, he weren’t even that small. Like, he was like my arm. I was like that! Like he’s a… I know it sounds crazy, but when you see it, it’s like a baby, like you normally see, like your missus… like a lump coming out your missus belly… but like when it comes out you’re just like, oh my, I can’t believe that’s in there.

21.57 But obviously I knew what the… but to see him, I was, yeah, proud. You know what I mean, cause… I know everyone says like… your kid’s so beautiful, this and that… but like to see your own son and that.  If you said to me you can you picture your son, I’d say, like, I’d like him, you know… because he was quite – not tanned, because obviously I’m not black myself – but, you know, he had a nice tan, he was dark hair, d’you know what I mean… just what I wanted. And that’s what… that’s what makes me proud. D’you know what I mean? It doesn’t make me sad. It’s just one of them things, I know it sounds hard, but you’ve just got to… deal with it, you know. Not in, I say like, you’ve just gotta… I don’t know how to explain it, like, you’ve just got to, sort of… not accept it, but you have to learn to live with it. D’you know what I mean? You have to there’s no… you have to.

22.41 There’s no… nice way of putting it. Because you’re either going to bring yourself down and, you know, I’m sure parents have even killed themselves over it. You know what I mean? And I’m sure if you asked your kid – I know he’s not here – but, if he could speak, he… he wouldn’t want that at all. D’you know what I mean? He wants you to live your life and you’ll see him. And that’s the way I look it. That’s the way I sort of have done since I found that out. But the one thing I do get blurred about is why? Because he wasn’t deformed in any way. You know, he was… well, the words were, he was healthy; healthy as you can get, you know, so, work that one out… you know, and, I know, obviously other parents they will know reasons and stuff like that, but for me I haven’t had that and for me that’s what sort of… you know, sort of makes you think, like, why, you know? And that’s what you keep asking yourself why? But there’s no answer.

23.36 Were you offered and did you take up a post-mortem at all? Where they examined his body?

23.42 Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what I said before. He went to… he went to a private place in town. And to be fair, from that Dan got friends with the people that done it… and well, this is… I don’t know how this is… it was literally a week and a half… I’d say, two weeks later, Dan was pregnant. And I don’t know how that works because you know… and then that, that pregnancy was, like, crazy. And to be fair I didn’t like it – at all. But from that process with Mace, Dan got friends with all the people at the hospital… you know like on the ward like… not the ward, but like the… man and his wife that like looked at Mace… got friends with them and they was doing check-ups with her and it was brilliant. But, I didn’t realise how much depth you can go in, you know, because obviously what had happened.

24.37 They was brilliant – the way they treated us – but it wasn’t a nice pregnancy because obviously… the baby would sit still for and hour and me and Dan are sort of panicking. And I pretended that I was fine, but, you know, I wasn’t. You know, I didn’t enjoy it, but I think now we’ve come through the other end… I think if we was to have another one now… yeah, it would still be for Danielle, but for me, I… you know… I do believe there was a reason why Mace passed and I just believe they’ve not found it, you know. So… yeah, they were brilliant the people that done it, they’re really good.

25.10 Tell me a bit about deciding to get pregnant again then, or getting pregnant again and deciding to try again.

25.19 Dan didn’t want to really talk about it, to be honest. And it was one day, she turned round and she said, you know the only way I’m going to sort of get over this in a way that… I can sort of try and get myself back to me, is get pregnant as soon as possible… but I can’t… I don’t know how it… I don’t know how… I honestly don’t. I can’t even remember. But I just remember literally about 4 weeks… 5 weeks… I can’t… ‘cause she did an early pregnancy test and it said she was pregnant and we were like that, no chance; absolutely no chance. Because it was so early, you know, from when Mace was here and obviously she was still even… you know… recovering, you know, from the birth. But yeah, she was pregnant. And that was it.

26.07 And to be fair, yeah, it was horrible – and I’m sure people can relate to that. Not as in horrible, as in like disgusting, but like a… uncomfortable feeling, nervous, erm… yeah, obviously because it’s so close to Mace, it, you know, you’re still very upset and you don’t want that to affect your… your, you know, your growing baby inside.  So that’s why… so I think that’s what’s helped me now, because I try to be positive thinking it’s going to rub off on the baby inside Dan then – obviously we didn’t know it was a girl or boy. Obviously what Dan had been with… been through, we didn’t know what her insides were like, you know regarding recovery and… can we have another? D’you get what I mean? We don’t want to do this again. You know, there’s all these feelings that people go through… erm… but then you look at it and you think why? Two… literally two or three weeks later, she’s pregnant. It’s crazy. Why? And that’s another why that I can’t answer because people try for years, don’t they? And they can’t get pregnant. But then you’ve just got to take it… you’ve got to take it in your step. It’s what it is and what life’s been given you. That’s what it is.

27.09 Were you – after Mason died – were you given advice by the hospital about future pregnancies or getting pregnant again?

27.19 I think they advised her to, sort of, recover, us to talk. And obviously they offered us a lot of help at the hospital, you know; someone to talk to and that… but, to be honest, I’m not a great listener. If I’m not really… I didn’t really listen. I didn’t really listen because I didn’t want to… because I just thought why should I listen when someone’s just taken my son off me and…? Why should I listen to this? Because they must deal with it all the time, you know what I mean? I just didn’t want to listen. Like I say, Danielle would know a lot more and… she probably knew everything… but for me, I, I just switched off to be honest. I didn’t really want to listen. I, I sort of… wanted to deal with it on my own way – which I still am now – but I do it on me own.

28.02 So you didn’t take up any of the counselling that you were offered?

28.04 Yeah, yeah I took up the counselling. I took up counselling for a bit… but then I stopped, because I believe, like, I’m talking to someone and they’re… you know… there’s other stuff I need help… you know… because I’ve lived away from home since I was 14 and stuff like this and everything built up… I needed to speak to someone in more… not just Mace, you know, because it’s… but Mace was just… just blew it over the edge, d’you know what I mean? And, yeah I did. But I think the main thing is talking to your partner, you know… having a good solid… I don’t know what other people’s relationships are, but me and Dan, it’s made us stronger than ever. You know like… we can… you know like, you can do anything… me and Dan can do anything. It’s silly things, like, you know you see couples going out and they’re arguing because they’re missus is having a chat to a fella? You know like little things like that? This is this… like I was never jealous anyway, but with this it just brings you inseparable. D’you know like, you can do anything together, you know. Can go…you know… it just brings… you know, it just sort of… it makes you a lot tighter. D’you know what I mean? Gives you that special bond that… ‘cause obviously it’s only you two that’s dealt with it, it’s like… it’s like other couples it’s only them two that have dealt with it.

29.09 So them chatting to their parents or their mates, yeah they’re listening, but they don’t understand, they don’t… and to be honest that’s why I don’t talk to them. That’s why I don’t… Like with Dan obviously she knew – because as a woman they know ‘em a lot more than us – because they, like I said before, it’s been inside her for 26 weeks and, you know… so for me to understand Dan’s pain; I don’t. But I’m honest about it. And that’s the best way I can be, you know ‘cause I’m not saying my advice is anything good, but, like, I’m just saying, my advice is just speak to your partner, and especially for a woman make sure she’s alright, you know what I mean? Make sure you’re there for her. Because it’s easy for a man: you know, a man will go, oh, I’m going out. And go out and, you know, and go to the pub and get drunk and stuff like that. That’s the wrong way to do it, you know, ‘cause you’re isolating your missus then, you know what I mean? For me, I made sure my missus was fine and, you know… for my saying, every king needs his queen and she’s my queen and I’ve got to look after her. And that’s it. You’ve got to be there.

30.01 And for me, I deal with my own feelings and problems on my own. I do. Because I’ve got two dogs: I’ve got two Rottweilers that I take out every week. They make me think about things because you go out… I don’t know if people got dogs? When you go out with a dog you think about stuff. And that’s what I do. So I tend to walk them on my own. I think about him when I go on long walks. And also, you know, my foster mum and dad that I lived with – they’ve been a massive help but, yeah, it’s all little things, and you need… My friends that I grew up with – ‘cause everyone thinks they’ve got friends, but until things happen you don’t realise who your true friends are. I knew who my friends were ‘cause I moved away from home… and they were boys I grew up with since I was five… and they’re still there till this day.  And they… we ring each other about every… every problems we talk to each other and… There’s six of us that are like brothers. And this is when you realise who your true friends are. And people always think they’ve got a lot of friends and they haven’t. And you know, and having that close knit family, you know it’s not always blood, you know what I mean? It’s a special thing you need; you need a good… you need a close knit, I don’t know, like… you call it family, but it’s like your friends, you know what I mean? The people you love and that you’d die for, you know… that’s what I call. And I’m lucky enough to have that. And that helps you get through it as well. Because obviously there’s sometimes you don’t want to speak to your missus about stuff, you want to speak to someone else; but you don’t want to go to sort of a counsellor – or someone you don’t know – you want to go to someone that you trust but knows you well enough to… d’you know what I mean? That’s all I can advise, because I’m sure there’s younger dads than me, but I’m saying I’m still young, you know what I mean? And it’s…

31.36 Yeah, it was tough, you know… at 29 and stuff, it was tough to deal with. Because even then, you’re still growing… I’m still growing up now. You know, and to go through that, I’m thinking, jeez, one I was expecting a kid, now I haven’t and I’ve lost him, like, how do I… juggle these things, d’you know what I mean? And I’ve got my missus to deal with and then I’ve got… you know, I’ve got to go out there and put a tough face on for my job, you know… and it’s difficult, because your mind ain’t on it, you know? But yeah, but going through what I went through I believe that I’m a lot tougher person now. I think things a lot clearer.

32.08 And it winds me up when I hear people whinging about things and that don’t mean anything in the world, you know? When they’re whinging about the weather and… I don’t know, I can’t think of an example now, but, you know, you hear ‘em whinging and you just feel, like, oh my God, you ain’t got a clue. I mean, you’re talking about… you know… stupidness, you know what I mean like? And that’s why I ain’t got time for it, d’you know? That’s when I ain’t got time for people… I just sort of pull myself away and I get myself in my own little bubble because I don’t… I don’t want negativity in it. And that’s why… you know, I said to Dan if anyone’s ever… shut yourself off… because it’s like the news.

32.43 I don’t watch news. I never watch news. Newspaper… I’ll probably flick through the sport, but I don’t read news. And that’s not because I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, it’s just the fact that you switch the news on – and I don’t know how long the news is? Half hour? Quarter of an hour? And all it is, is bad. And I don’t want to see that. You know what I mean? I don’t want to see bad news; I want to see good news; I want to see people doing well. I want to see kids doing stuff and you know… I don’t know… you know, when they’re at school doing exams and getting an ‘A’. You know? Like things like that… and you hardly see that. News is all negative, and for me, I don’t like negativity so I push it out. And I’ve always been like that. And… if it’s a negative part of my life, I just cut it out – whether it’s a person or a thing – I, I cut it out.

33.25 You mentioned about your friends. Can you tell me about telling friends and family about Mason and, and what had happened?

33.34 Well, like I said, my friends are… my everything, you know, like… so telling them, it wasn’t a problem. And they… like I said, my friend, he went through similar before, he was the hardest person to tell. He’s older than me, but he went through it. And I didn’t realise how bad it was – and that’s me being honest, because I didn’t… I went to the funeral, I didn’t… I see the coffin; probably still didn’t register because I… you know I couldn’t relate myself to it. And I did say that to him. But, like I say, if your friends are your true friends it don’t matter… it don’t matter what you say or do they’re there for ya. And that’s it. And they were there for me and I can’t repay.

34.15 You know, my friends were there before, I’d say, majority of my family. And that’s what I’m saying, you realise things, and you realise… a lot of people are full of rubbish. You know what I mean? But it’s clear for me; I learnt very young. I moved away from home at 14, so I work people out very quickly, but for say Danielle she’s learnt this way, you know? And it’s a good thing ‘cause she sees good… good people, you know? And it’s not just… we’ve met a lot of people that have, you know, gone through similar situations that Dan’s got very close with – which is good, you know, because you meet good people. But, yeah, it was… you do definitely realise who’s there for you and who’s not.

34.59 Tell me about Mason’s funeral and how that was.

35.04 That was my toughest point of it. That’s sort of what really hit me was… planning it… you know, sort of Dan did most of it to be honest, because Dan spent a few days with him before he actually went away, you know like to… before he was put in the coffin, if you like. And I went in there the last day… to sort of… to speak to him, and so I had a few minutes on my own; spoke to him and that and… which was nice. But obviously he’d changed a lot because of obviously… you know ‘cause obviously the fluid drained and stuff like that and obviously at this point I think he was…I think they let him dry… dry out? I don’t know the… stuff like that, but, yeah…

35.48 The actual day of the funeral, all my friends and family were there, but I wasn’t really bothered about them, to be honest, it was more the fact that… like I was saying goodbye in a way that… physical, d’you get what I mean? That’s what I was sort of… and I… it didn’t… everything was alright… not alright, but, I’m saying, everything was okay until we got to the… cemetery or the… is it the crematorium? We drove to it – because I wanted to ride a Harley Davidson in front of, you know like with my dad and that – but Danielle wanted me in the car with her, which obviously probably… you know, I should be… but I just thought I wanted to lead him, d’you get what I mean? That’s why I wanted to be at the front and… but anyway, I was in the car and it was ok, but the… when it hit me was when I actually had to pick him up… because I didn’t want anyone else touching him bar me. So when I picked him up – it was walking down, like, the… I don’t know what you call it… like an aisle, if you like, or – I’m walking him to the where you place him. That was the hardest bit, because I had him and all my family behind me.

36.56 And we had the song… I don’t know if you’ve heard the song Audra Mae… Forever Young? You know, we had that playing as well and… That’s why that means so much to me, that song, d’you know what I mean? Like, we was walking and that’s when it hit me, you know, when I was… walking down there and I was thinking, oh my God. It was harder than playing in front of sixty-thousand. You know what I mean? Because I was, sort of, on me own. But I wanted it… I wanted it like that. I wanted to take, you know… I wanted to carry everyone on my back because I’ve been used to that, and I wanted to do it. And that’s why I decided, I said to Dan, listen, let me me do it. Because I wanted to do it. And I did it and that’s…

37.35 And then the funeral, to be honest, was… it was lovely; really nice. Dan picked the music and stuff like that and… we had a few speeches, if you like. And I, I wrote something – to be honest, I didn’t even have to write it – but Dan told me to write it down, but to be honest, I could have just freestyled it because it was exactly… I could remember it now… but obviously in a different order, but I knew exactly what I wanted to say. It was just about him: you know, I’ll see him again; obviously I wanted to play football with ya… everything what a dad would say to their son, do you know what I mean? That was hard because I choked, my throat… it was like someone grabbed me throat; you know when you get dry mouth? It was like someone grabbed my throat like that and it went all funny… you know, like you’ve… like you had helium or something like that? And I had to kept coughing and the rev… the rev who was doing it went to step in and I was like… I kept telling him, no I’ve got to do this. D’you know what I mean?  ‘Cause you know, earlier in the morning I wasn’t going to do it and… like the woman that looked after me, and stuff like that, said, Chris, listen, you’ve got to do it. You’ll regret it if you don’t. And I did and it was like the best thing that I did, you know what I mean? It was sort of… just letting him know I’m here and how proud I was of him… and how proud he was of me, d’you know what I mean? Because…

38.45 And I know he’s not done it – but hopefully my daughter will – because all I wanted was – especially a son – is to watch me play football, d’you get what I mean? Having a son watch you play football, you know, it’s always a… special thing, because… well, it must be, to see your dad playing football. And that’s what I wanted him to… d’you know what I mean? But that… that… my speech what I give, yeah, it was tough, it was… that was the… hard. But, you know, it’s one of them things that… I know it’s a saying and not a nice saying, but you’ve just got to do it. You have to do it; you have to man up and do it. Like I’m not a fan – it’s not I’m not a fan – but, I don’t believe in, sort of – not cowardness – but hiding and things like that… I don’t… you know people are scared and they’re frightened because they’re out their comfort zone, but that’s what makes us live, that’s what makes us people because you’re out your comfort zone, and you’re excited… it’s all different emotions. And without emotion, what are you? You’re dead. You know, and that’s what I thought, I got to do it.

39.39 And I was really out my comfort zone, but I did it and that’s what I like and that’s sort of something that taught me, d’you know what I mean? You know, when I was younger – it was Alex Ferguson that taught me this – he just went, Chris, what does Nike? You know, what’s the… logo of Nike? What’s the saying? I went, Just Do It. And he went, there you go. Just do it. Don’t think; just do it. And I’ve always remembered it. And it’s something that I can only pass on to people that will know me, d’you get what I mean? And yeah, that was, that was the toughest bit, but it was something that I had to do. It’s something that I have to do. And when I believe in stuff like that… it’s not that I don’t like people – that’s the wrong thing to say – but for someone who says, oh, I couldn’t do… I haven’t got time for it. I haven’t got time for it at all, because I feel like it’s a, sort of, a coward’s way of getting out of it; it’s an easy way. Because everyone can say, no, no, no, I’m too… for me, you know, it’s your son or daughter. And I had to do it. There was no ifs, buts or nos. I had to do it.

40.38 How do you remember Mason now, kind of, on anniversaries or around your home or…? How do you remember him now?

40.46 Well, we’ve got obviously…I don’t know what you’d… Dan’s done like a little, it’s like a shrine for him, if you like that I’ve got my bible on what I was christened with, he’s got his bible, got a couple of… we’ve got pictures but obviously Dan… like say if people come round we’re not too – not close with – but if I have people come round that don’t know or sort of are unaware of it we sort of turn them round – but they’re in the bedroom – you know. We turn them round. And we’ve got his ashes in like a little heart engraved thing because… for me, I don’t… it’s tough to say, like, I don’t know because I’ve never been through this, but ‘cause obviously… I’m from down South obviously, but I live up North but… being from down South… when I’ve been through family deaths and that they bury them at a cemetery. And for me, I don’t like that, because I feel like they’re going to be cold… I don’t know; d’you know what I mean? It’s them stupid things… you know you watch them films and you see all these spirits and that… I prefer him being with me. And that’s why… Especially him… one, being young. Two, we’re both Southern. So, say if I was to do down there, I don’t want him buried up here. So I just thought best way to do is to put him in that. So that’s why we got that.

41.54 And, obviously I don’t know about Dan, I talk to him. Like when… it’s only when Dan’s not here though… she don’t know that.  That’s a bit embarrassing, innit? I put my music on and we have a little chat and that… yeah, we always chat. Especially… I know it sounds really weird, but when I’ve had a drink as well I’ll always speak to him. Just on my own, like. I was having a drink in the local – it’s not like I drink a lot – but when I’d been out with the mates and there was no taxi and I walked back – and it’s only about two miles in… in town there… I’ll just be thinking about him and have a talk. D’you know what I mean? It don’t get me upset. I just saying, I’m here for ya, d’you know what I mean? And love ya. And that’s it really, yeah. It’s a… tough one ‘cause you never get no answer, but I always feel one day you might, d’you know what I mean? But, yeah, so that’s how we…

42.42 But regarding like on the 5th of every month – it was Dan’s idea – we do like a, erm… I don’t know what you call them… they’re big… you know when you light a sort of like a little… lantern. And we write something on it and we lit them off, every 5th – or normally the 4th at night – depending on the weather because sometimes it’s windy and it don’t take off. Because we did it once and it nearly set alight to my neighbour’s bush. We pooed ourselves cause my brother was there and all. But, yeah… so the 4th we sort of lit off lanterns and that.

43.10 For his first birthday we went to a beach in Liverpool that we walk the dogs and we lit off some balloons and that – and that same beach is where I proposed to Dan. That’s when I asked her to marry me and I writ… wrote it in the sand, and I had the dogs there and I had my… ah, me dad! Me dad was actually there, yeah; me dad was there as well. So that’s when I thought that meant something as well, you know what I mean, because of the beach obviously with Mace and stuff like that… because we used to go there when she was pregnant and then it was summer, so we used to have an ice cream and walk through the… it’s brilliant because it’s like a beach but it’s got all like sand dunes and you can go through like a little… my dogs love the forest and that… so that’s how we do, yeah. Yeah, and that’s it really to be honest, Dan sort of, like I say women… she’d do a lot more than me because obviously she had a lot more connection and stuff like that… but I’m sure she’s… there’s a lot of stuff that she does that she doesn’t tell me, you know? But obviously she’s not told me for a reason – she wants that private – so I don’t really ask her what.

44.18 Going back to the pregnancy with Milena, can you tell me a little bit more about your feelings through that pregnancy?

44.26 Yeah, it was… like I said before, we found out so soon, it was a bit… well, we didn’t believe it to be honest… and because obviously Dan’s belly was swollen anyway from the… so we didn’t see till, you know, months down the line, obviously the… but, yeah, it was… not horrible, because I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but it was… uncomfortable, you know, because the scans… we was going every – I think it was every Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a nightmare… every week, because obviously Dan was panicking, so… this is what I was saying, she got such a good relationship with the, the private hospital that she was going there on the week that we wasn’t at the hospital that we had Mason at. So, it was a scan every week, and it was a nightmare because you know you’re constantly looking for like… bad news. And every week was good… good news; good news; good news. D’you know what I mean?

45.14 But then, obviously the older she – we didn’t know she was a girl till we obviously got the sex test – but looking at her face was exactly the same as Mace. Even now, if you looked at Mace, you could sort of see the resemblance you know what I mean? And you could… and that’s when it got… Dan was constantly thinking, something’s going to happen; something’s going to happen. But then longer it got, longer it got, bigger she got… and Dan was – this is what’s weird as well like – Dan was brilliant… because she’s a very healthy girl, anyway, you know, like, she don’t really drink and through the pregnancy she never drunk at all – even with Mason. She just did exactly the same with Milena, so… she was thinking, I obviously did something wrong last time, you know, so it made it even worse for her and she was stressing; she wasn’t sleeping properly… and then she was still obviously grieving for Mace and stuff like that and there was a number of things.

46.03 But that’s what I was saying… this is where I tried to be positive, you know what I mean? I try to be positive and I sort of said like Milena’s obviously here now living the life of both of them, you know what I mean? So, she’s going to be naughty and she’s going to have double trouble – d’you know what I mean? – in one! And that’s sort of… that’s what I was trying to flip it on that, to say… because I didn’t want her thinking negative and I don’t know how babies work inside ‘cause they must pick up feeling and stuff like that and I don’t want that negativity running into her, you know? But then to see her, like, you’ve seen her, she’s mad, she’s never upset, never cries, you know, she’s brilliant, the happiest baby… and I believe that she’s living it for Mace as well. So that’s how I looked at it, you know?

46.37 Yeah, but regarding the pregnancy, no it wasn’t nice… and to be honest it’s not nice – it’s not not nice, it’s because you want the baby now. [clicks fingers] I’m impatient: so I wanted the baby now. I didn’t want to wait another nine months, d’you know what I mean? I wanted her out now. [clicks fingers] But that’s pregnancy, innit? Y’know… that’s anyone… anyone pregnant now, they’ll tell you, I want it now, I don’t want to wait nine months, you know? But then the further along the line we went, then she started getting dates of obviously when we can have the… you know, because it would be a planned c-section this one, because of obviously what we’d been through… and then it was like 37 weeks. And then it was countdown for that, and it was like six, five… and you’re thinking, oh my God!

47.14 Then the night before, phwoar… it was like… I think it was more excitement because I thought nothing can go wrong here, d’ you know what I mean? We’re here. And… because the night before she had to go in the hospital, but I wasn’t allowed to stay, so I dropped her off, come home, I couldn’t sleep. So, I ended up just all night watching films, football, d’you know what I mean? It was just like… but like I say, that’s why I had to be a man and just pretend, everything’s fine, babes, you know what I mean? It’s sweet, you know like… but then I’d deal with it in my own time because… well, a man’s got to be a man, I think, you know, there’s no… And then the night before we took some pictures and that and… but she just had everything, you know, like, she bought a Doppler. We got given like these heart things for her to check on the heart, do you know all these things? And you’re just thinking, oh mate, it’s one thing after another, you know… it was horrible. And obviously trying to concentrate on that, and then me job. Me head was all over the place, you know… People… you don’t want to talk to people about it because they’ve not been through it and I understood that, so it’s no point me mentioning it, because you don’t want to make people… because it’s a lot of awkwardness. A lot of people feel awkward talking about it, you know… and there’s that from it. And… yeah, and obviously Dan, Dan was… it was worse for Dan – bless her – but we done it, we done it and… that’s it, yeah.

48.26 Tell me about meeting Milena for the first time.

48.29 Well, like I say, it was a planned c-section, so when I got there in the morning I see Dan, we had some toast and that… I don’t think Dan was allowed to eat or did she have to starve herself? Or whatever it was… I had some toast and they give me some overalls – so I looked… I made sure I looked alright, just in case we had a picture! Put the overalls on; the hat and that and – this is when now I believe that I had to take control. The same, you know when you’re in the comfort zone. So I just said, I had to take control as in, come on Dan! Let’s do this, you know everything’s good. But, I be honest, I don’t know how women do any pregnant… it’s amazing what they do. And I don’t know if… you know probably men don’t want to admit it, but what they do is incredible. And I don’t think that a lot of men can do it. It’s incredible what they do. One, to carry a baby and two, to go through that birth, c-section whatever it is: it’s incredible. It’s incredible. I don’t think I could do it.

49.22 But even Dan, we was sat there, she put her overalls… and they had to give her these injections, you know for her blood and… or take her blood. And they had to give her injections to numb her legs. And the needle on it! I was like, yeah it’s fine… it was about, I don’t know, about four inches. I was thinking, oh my God. She was like that, do it. Come on. Do it! You know? And I was just thinking, God. My God, it’s unbelievable.

49.44 And then this is when obviously, they put… you go into a bright white room – it’s the worst colour to have, isn’t it? You know, with all the blood and that? You’d think it would be a dark, you know. I was thinking of all the cleaning they’re going to have to do, you know like… [laughs] because it’s so white, it’s like a dream. It reminded me of – I don’t know why, if anyone’s seen ‘Bruce Almighty’ you know when it’s all… he pretends they go up to heaven, it’s all white. It was like that. It was all white and you see these people chatting and then obviously, when we’re sat down, they put the screen up, and then I had two lads up here and we all started talking about football. And Dan was like, oh, my God. You can’t even get away from it in here. So we started, but it got me mind off it. We were joking and that and then…

50.23 Dan couldn’t feel it obviously – she had to be numb anyway – but that’s when I could hear stuff then, you know like… it sounded like a water balloon. And it must have been her in her… is it the amniotic sack? I can’t say it. The… the sack that the baby’s in. And yeah, I… I remember it was like a water balloon and then as soon as it opened… at this point, like, she, she burst out crying. And that’s when I was like, oh like… Jesus, that noise, you know like you’re thinking, come on, you’re alright. But then because obviously before this, we got told, because it’s a c-section, the baby’s not had that natural push to sort of clear it’s lungs out to get the fluid up. And because started crying I thought, oh she’s clean. But then she stopped. And that’s when I panicked because I thought, well, why’s she stopped?

51.13 But then she started again but then it was like a… you know when you’re gargling water?  But then they put her on like a little bed with all these machines… and I’m like thinking, oh no… and Dan was trying to look… look at her and I honestly thought… well, she probably don’t know, but I honestly thought something was wrong… because I’m thinking she’s not breathe… well, what’s wrong with her? And all the ladies that were around Dan were sort of saying, listen, everything’s fine. I was thinking, nah, it’s not. It’s not fine. They’re just trying to calm us down, you know what I mean? They’re trying to put a breathing mask on Milena and I’m thinking, nah And Dan’s trying to look through me. I said, listen, she’s fine; listen… and you could hear her. Anyway, the bloke said, right, come on. And, I went, what? He went, come and meet your daughter. And I said, nah, nah, nah… No, and pulled me… but it’s the best thing he did because I went and met her and… she was fine, but she just needed help with the… so they called down an incubator and at this point, that’s when the midwife went, listen, she just needs a little bit of help with her breathing but she’s fine. She’s going to go upstairs, so we’re going to stitch Dan back up and then you can go up and see her.

52.15 So anyway, they’re stitching Dan up and I was with the baby. And at this point, she was okay but she had a like a breathing – like it’s tiny – like a little breathing mask on her mouth. So, I’m sort of, in my head thinking, come on babes. Come on breathe. Breathe. You know? But she just wasn’t doing it on her own. And I was thinking, oh no, you can’t do this, d’you know what I mean? Because like Dan’s trying to look and I’m blocking her on purpose. So anyway, they’ve, they’ve got the baby in the incubator, Dan’s all stitched up, they’ve, they’ve wheeled Dan out and then as I’ve gone in with Dan, the midwife come out – who was in there; because we got to know her very well, you know because obviously we were seeing her every week – she went, come on then. Come and meet your daughter. And I was like that. No. And it was that… come on, you know… Come on then, I’ve got to do this…

52.58 Went upstairs and I was so nervous to meet her and she was… and I see her and I was thinking like, oh my, God. It was a weird feeling, like knowing that she was yours… but you’re meeting for the first time. And I went… I remember just seeing her and I just was like… well, to be honest, I didn’t touch her, I just looked. I didn’t touch her, because… and the midwife was like, touch her. And I was like, nah. And literally she plonked me down and if it wasn’t for her I would have froze. She pushed me down and she got Mela out of the – I don’t know what it’s like – the incubator thing and she just plonked her on me and that was it. That was it. And I wouldn’t let her go then. That was it. And then, Dan had to go through that with me. So I had to sort of… I learnt from my midwife what to do and did it with Dan, because Dan was shaking, I remember… when Dan was okay… and I think it was about – I don’t know the time… it was a few hours because she had to get the feeling back in her legs. Anyway… oh, sorry, but when I went upstairs, when I went to see her, she just had one tube on her nose. So I was like… and the midwife went, can we have… she went, oh yeah, absolutely fine. She doesn’t need no breathing. She said, she’s got a set of lungs on her. She didn’t have no breathing equipment, no nothing. It was her food, her milk.  So I was like that’s not… she went, no. That’s food, that. She said, look, she’s breathing on her own. She’s fine. And all the other babies have had these thick wires coming out… she was on her own. So that’s when I was like, oh, my God. So she’d…

54.24 Anyway so I went and got Dan, you know, trying to tell someone what they’ve never seen it was difficult, so I was all excited and… So anyway, we had to wait there. The nurse come back out to check on Dan and stuff like that and then they literally… it was a few hours later just went, right you ready? And Dan was like, nah. And I said, come on. You’re coming. So I lifted her – obviously he couldn’t move – so I lifted her, put her in… put her through and that was it. And then that… it was the night after, because that night we sort of spent a lot… which I didn’t understand, a lot of parents – I know this sounds bad – a lot of parents didn’t go and see their kids in that room and I don’t know why. And that’s why I feel like they’ve not… maybe they didn’t appreciate what they… you know? Because we’ve been through stuff. There was babies in there that not even seen their parents. I’m not one to, sort of, judge, but I just was like… ‘cause I was going round to speak to all of them… so I spoke to all the kids in there, you know, just to say – they didn’t know who I was – but, you know, just sort of saying, listen, you’re alright. You know what I mean? And they lady said, why are you doing that? And I said like I feel sorry for them. They’re on their own. D’you know?

55.19 But all night we was checking on her and she was on, sort of, Dan’s, you know, breast milk, but it was like, sort of, in to a syringe and then we started feeding her with that. And then the next night – it was literally 24 hours later – the midwife just went, right you ready for her because she’s coming? And I was just like, oh, my God. No we’re not! But so then, that was it, really. And that’s when it hit us; when she stayed with us. And that was it; you’re just sort of… chucked in at the deep end really, ain’t ya? And you’ve just gotta deal with it. And from there you just… yeah, it’s been – you know what it’s like having a kid – it’s a lot of ups and downs, arguments, but…. what you been through and what you’ve created, you know, it’s, it’s magic… yeah.

55.57 Have you thought about whether you’ll tell Milena about Mason, and if so, what you’re gonna do?

56.05 A hundred percent; hundred percent. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t… It depends how young you tell them, doesn’t it? Because… if she’s old enough you can, sort of, be truthful and just say what happened. But when they’re young – I don’t know because she’s not that old – but I’m guessing, you know, when you see toddlers and that, they ask questions all the time. And I think the best way round it is, sort of, to say, you know, he’s in heaven, he’s an angel, you know, stuff like that. So, I… yeah, a hundred percent. And me and Dan will talk about it, but I’ve got no problems telling her ASAP. Because there’s, you know… that’s me. You know, I’ve got no problems at all… because I want her to know she’s got an older brother… you know, if she does anything naughty he’s looking at her, you know what I mean? Like, stuff like that. But, yeah, I’ve got no problems telling her at all… yeah…

56.54 In what ways do you think Mason has affected your life?

57.01 I think for the better… really. I know it sounds weird but it’s… it makes you sort of appreciate things: the little things, you know what I mean? It makes you… not more happy, because that sounds… but it makes you sort of… cut… cut a lot of rubbish out. You know what I mean? Like, regarding, like I said it before, people and stuff like that and… you know, listening to a load of rubbish and all that and … it’s made you as a couple grow closer… As me, as a person, it’s probably made me tougher for the world, I think… which is a good thing, you know, ‘cause I needed it; I needed to grow up and he sort of helped that, d’you know what I mean? It’s a special thing as well – you know what I mean? – because he’s still my son. I know he’s not here, but he’s still my son and… no one else has got him, you know what I mean? I have. So that’s how I sort of… look at it in that way.

58.03 What do you think it’s important for people to know about stillbirth – people who maybe haven’t been through it?

58.11 That’s a difficult one to sort of say that because I did it myself, I didn’t realise until… sort of you go through it. It’s, it is tough; it’s a tough time, you know? A tough… well, it’s still… we’re still – especially Danielle – she’s still grieving over it massively and… like I say I deal with it in my own time, but it’s a… it’s a tough time… especially for the couple, you know, that’s why I’m saying you’ve got to be there for each other because it is tough because you tend to blame each other, shout at each other, argue… and you, sort of… you have to get through it. There’s no other way about it. You have to get through it and… but regarding dealing with it… there’s not a lot really I can say, really. Unless you’ve been through it, I don’t think you understand – and that’s not being nasty it’s just… it’s like anything in life, if you’ve not experienced it, you, you don’t know what it’s like. But I think it’s definitely – especially the last couple of years – it’s definitely become more aware for people that didn’t know and, you know, it’s nice that people are, sort of, showing an interest in it. Because if I’d not been through this I probably still wouldn’t know what it was, or understand… in depth, you know, so…

59.24 Is there anything that you particularly are proud of or regret?

59.31 I don’t… you can’t… I don’t regret anything really. I’m not saying I’ve done everything right, but there’s no point regretting because you can’t change it. But I’m proud of, yeah, how I’ve dealt with it. I’m proud of… being there, being the man, you know what I mean? Being there for my partner, which you know…? I still do a lot of things wrong but because what we’ve been through… it swipes all them out of it, do you get what I mean?  It’s, it’s… but, I don’t know it just makes… I don’t know if people have had a kid… a child after they’ve been through this – so if they haven’t they’ve got this to come – but when you’ve had another child it makes you appreciate them even more. And I knew – I know it’s a stupid thing – but I knew I was always going to be a good dad; I knew it. And that’s because I was so young, I knew, because I’m… I’m good with kids and you know… you know, I just knew… I don’t know, you just know and I knew. But, no, I think… I think regrets… you know… everyone… I regret… every… a lot of things, but there’s no point regretting because you can’t change it. You just gotta look at the proudness in what you’ve done, because regrets is only gonna, like you say, make you think negative and stuff like that – and I don’t want to do that.

1.00.47 And is there anything you’d like to pass on to other parents in a similar situation?

1.00.56 Erm, I don’t know about pass on, but all I can say is you know just be there for each other… and talk. You know, I know I’m not the biggest talker regarding… because I, I knew I’ve always dealt with it in my own time, but make sure – especially for the woman – make sure the partner’s there… you know, the man’s there for the woman. Definitely, because the woman’s very… while they’re going through their emotions and stuff like that. And I know we always joke about women because they’re out of… this is a different situation, but, you know, men will always joke about women saying, they’re on a different planet, you know? They’re crazy, this, you know… But you know it’s very different for a woman; very different. And you’ve just got to make sure you’re there for her. That’s the main thing, you know. Make sure… not make sure she’s happy because… there’s still that, that bit – even with Danielle – there’s that bit inside her that’s always going to be sad, wanting Mace, but… I know it sounds horrible, but he’s never gonna be here, you know? He’s never gonna be here in person to fill that hole.

1.01.51 But just make sure you’re always there for her, you know what I mean? You make sure that, you know… as a couple you talk. It depends how you do it ‘cause a lot of men shut up… like, I do shut up – like I mean shut… you know, don’t talk about stuff, but make sure like you think about it and… ‘cause I do when I go out for dog walks… that’s why… that’s why I dealt with it… because I believe a lot of people – like some men – don’t speak at all. They don’t speak at all and they just… but for me I’m quite a… I think a lot… and that’s what made me deal with it.

1.02.23 Is there anything else you’d like to say that you feel you haven’t had a chance to about Mason or about anything else?

1.02.30 No, I think I’ve covered… everything. You know, I don’t wish this on anyone to go through… but it’s, like I’ve… it sounds like I’m echoing, but it’s just like just make sure that you’re there for each other: that’s the main thing, I think. Because there’s nothing worse than feeling on your own and, you know… because I don’t know… loads of people who’ve been through this, but I’m sure that people have felt lonely through it and, you know, obviously hurt… but you know they’ve taken it out on themselves and killed themselves or done some damage… You know you just make sure that you’re there for each other and you have good support network round you. And I think it makes you, sort of… it makes you look at life a lot differently as well, you know what I mean? It makes you – not enjoy, because I’ve always enjoyed me life – but it makes you, sort of, live life to the max and just think, you know what, it’s too short.

1.03.29 That’s why I don’t watch the news and that, because everyone… all you hear is people moaning and talking negative and you know for me… that’s not for me that. I prefer to, if I’m indoors, if the news is on, I prefer to put on, I don’t know, bit of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, play a bit of pool or table tennis, you know. I prefer to keep my mind off… I prefer to have the fun of it and… you know, ‘cause like I said and I said earlier, one day I‘m going to see him – and I don’t know when that is – but when I do, we’ll make up for lost time. And that’s how I look at it.


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Danielle’s full interview

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0.00 I’m Danielle; I am Mason’s mum born on the 5th July 2015 at 26 weeks, weighing one pound and ten ounces.

0.09 Can you tell me a little bit about how you and Chris met?

0.14 Gosh, how did we meet? We actually met through a friend in Bolton – of all places! We were initially friends and then after a few years we kind of realized, oh maybe we are more than friends. And it just sort of went from there really.

0.32 And what was your attitude to starting a family?

0.36 I’ve always wanted a family. Since I was young, I always had a plan of having, you know, the house, the husband, the two-point-four children… yeah, just wanted to meet the right person; always wanted a family.

0.52 And can you tell me about the pregnancy.

0.56 It was very textbook. Found out I was pregnant: was very shocked but very excited… was so excited I got an early scan privately at 8 weeks. The little heartbeat: it was amazing. And then I had my 12 week scan and everything was perfect. Went for a private one at 16 weeks; I was just so eager to find out if I was having a boy or a girl. We found out we were having a boy which was just amazing. My 20 week scan again perfect. So generally the pregnancy was your textbook pregnancy no complications just very standard.

1.37 And can you tell me about the antenatal care you received during the pregnancy with Mason?

1.42 The antenatal care… yeah, I mean, it was great. I only really saw them a couple of times. I had my midwife appointment a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. And then it was the 12 week which, again, would have been my first scan – without the private one – you know, that was great. And the 20 week one, which, yeah, also was great. So I can’t really complain about the antenatal care as such. It was perfect, really.

2.11 And at that time what did you know about stillbirth?

2.16 Honestly, I hadn’t even heard the word. Didn’t know what it was. Didn’t know what it meant. Didn’t know it existed. I’d never heard it before; so, no, nothing.  I mean, I’d heard of miscarriage because you know it is quite a common topic, but once I got past 12 weeks, well, I was fine. So, yeah, I’d never heard of stillbirth before.

2.40 And during Mason’s pregnancy, when did you realise that something was wrong?

2.47 Well, we had just been on holiday to Greece… at this point, I was 25 weeks pregnant. His movement wasn’t as… fast, you would say, as normal. So, I had a quick Google. I did contact a midwife and she said, when you’re abroad, you know, the heat can affect the movement of the baby. As long as you’re getting that movement every few hours, go on your left side, it’s fine. And he became very active again, so there were no worries when it came to that. It was when we got home. So we got home on the Wednesday and… it was very, very hot here as well actually. I remember it was very, very hot summer. And, you know, it was my normal routine: got up; Chris went to work and I sat down and I had my breakfast – which always made him move because I always had a cold glass of water – and I spoke to my tummy and I just said, what’s… you’re not moving today what’s wrong with you? And, I don’t even think I’ve really told anyone this, I got… I’m on a forum online where I’m on the same gestation as these women, and I posted a topic just saying my baby’s not moved today, can anyone relate? What do I do? And all the ladies just said, I’m sure your fine but get yourself to triage, at your hospital and, and just get checked out, because, you know, there’s no harm in doing so. And even the drive there, I was talking to him: come on, why aren’t you moving? But, even at this point, I wasn’t… I wasn’t worried at all. I thought, right, I need to get home, make lunch. You know, I’ll be in and out within half an hour. And, you know, that was when I got to the hospital and I had a scan… initially the doppler and even the midwife said, oh, he’s not really behaving himself… We’ll get you down for a scan with the sonographer. And, even then, I text Chris saying, oh, I’m just off for a scan. And, even at this point, I wasn’t worried or concerned at all. I just thought he’s obviously in a different position today. And then I had the scan and we were told there was no heartbeat, so… up until then I had no worries or concerns whatsoever.

5.11 And what happened next?

5.14 Erm… Sorry… Erm… They gave me a scan and… they said, we’re really sorry there’s no heartbeat. And I just said, sorry. What? Of course there’s a heartbeat. He was moving last night. And I said, check again, just check again. And there was actually three women in the room, for some reason – I don’t actually know why there were three women in the room. I have a feeling that the midwife, who did my initial doppler scan, had given them the heads up, so I think they already knew. And then she went, no, I’m really, really sorry there is no heartbeat. And I just cried and cried. And… I just said, please just find my boyfriend. At this point, Chris was actually already on his way to hospital. He had a funny feeling, so he left work. So he was actually in the car park at this point, thank god, and… I described his appearance to one of the doctors – sorry, midwives, it wasn’t a doctor – she ran out and found him and he came in. And he was like, well, what do you mean there’s no heartbeat? And they just said we’re so, so sorry.

6.24 And at this point, it’s like the hospital was empty; it was like they emptied it for us. There was no one about. They’d ushered us into a, a side-room where I spoke to a doctor who explained the next process about… well, delivering… delivering the child of which, you know, it’s all a bit of a blur, really, but I just thought this can’t be happening. And she gave me a tablet – which would break down my placenta, I think – and then I was told to come back in two days when I would be induced… to give birth… to Mason. And then, I went home. And that was that, really. I had to deal with it here and try and mentally process what I had just been through. What was a normal day had just… completely just ruined my life.

7.21 What did you do, back at home, while you waited to go back to hospital?

7.26 I can’t a hundred percent remember. I remember Chris walking me back to the car – from the hospital… and then I remember just going straight up to bed. I didn’t get into bed; I just laid there holding my stomach, looking at the ceiling… and looking out the window and looking at my stomach again, just thinking, like this isn’t happening. At this point, Chris was downstairs calling our relatives – my mum and my dad, his family – and just, sort of, letting them know what had happened. So, at this point, they were all on their way up and it was just the last thing I wanted to be honest. I just wanted to be on my own, it was just horrific. I just stayed on my own.

8.18 Did you… were you given any advice about what to take with you back into the hospital or prepare?

8.26 I can’t a hundred percent remember… but I was just told to pack an overnight bag. And just come in on Sunday morning… just, no… I wasn’t really told anything. I really can’t remember.

8.49 Can you tell me about going back into hospital, and…?

8.53 Yeah, it was a weird day. So, at this point… so, Chris’s mum arrived the evening that we found out. So that was the Friday evening: his mum arrived. My parents arrived on the Saturday, as well as his dad. So on the Sunday morning, you know, very strange atmosphere in the house, as you can imagine. Very awkward. No one spoke. And then we all went to the hospital together and I went up to one of the antenatal wards, where I was… given some toast and… all the family were sat there and I just thought – it was weird, like we were all just sat there waiting for something – and I just said, look can you just please go home. You know, I just want me and Chris here for now; because it was just a waiting game, really. I was then given a… another tablet and I had to wait two hours and then I was given… I can’t remember the term exactly but it was like a cervical sweep to get the… induction on the way. And just hours and hours and hours passed.

10.10 And it was weird because I remember there’s… there was a TV in our room, and I think it was Dumb and Dumber that was on, and me and Chris were laughing, we were laughing, we were playing games on our phones, we were just chatting as normal. It was like, for a few hours we actually forgot why we were there and what was happening to us. So, I don’t know if that was, like, my defence mechanisms, like, protecting me from the sheer mental pain that I was going through, but, yeah, it, it was fine. And then… they then moved me to a bigger room which was a lot more comfortable… yeah, it was just a waiting game really, until I started to have contractions.

10.58 Can you tell me what happened next… about the labour?

11.03 It was about half seven at night, and I started to get period-like pains – bearing in mind, I’d never experienced contractions or anything so that’s the best way to explain it really – I sort of was having period pains. And I told one of the midwives who then brought in the gas and air machine and she said, I don’t think it’s a contraction but we’ll keep an eye on you. And then the pain got quite, quite worse. It wasn’t pleasant at all. And I was crying and, at this point, it was five to eight so it was the swap over of the shifts – so all the midwives who had been with me were leaving and the new midwives were coming on – so the timing wasn’t great. And, at this point, I was saying, Chris… Chris, honestly please, please I,I need someone.

12.00 So we’re ringing the bell, no one’s coming because they’re obviously doing turnover. And, at this point, a midwife came in at ten past eight, and I went, look – it actually felt like I needed the toilet; number two. I was like, no, I need to go to the toilet. And, she was like, okay, I’ll let you go to the toilet in a minute. And, I was like, no, I need to go now. And I’m really embarrassed. And I need Chris to leave the room because I’m really embarrassed. And she just said, look darling, that’s the baby. I went, well no, it’s not the baby; I need the toilet. And, she went, look it’s the baby, now calm down. And I was screaming at this point it; was horrid. They then gave me a injection in my leg of… I can’t remember the name exactly but of a… basically it was the next step up of the painkiller.  And then within 10 / 15 minutes he arrived. So, god, 40 minutes from an initial pain and then he arrived. Yeah, so… it was all very quick and very blurred because of the pain.

13.04 And… can you tell me a little bit more about the care that you received and the attitudes of the staff during the labour?

13.12 If there’s one thing I can say is that I got nothing but amazing care on that day, they were very, very sympathetic; very caring. They tried to keep me in, you know, high spirits. They were lovely. I genuinely cannot fault them. I stayed in a specialised suite for this… you know, sort of thing… yeah, they were really, really wonderful and… you know, even to this day I stay in touch and I’ve thanked them and I send Christmas cards because I really could not fault the care that I got on that day.

13.48 And, can you tell me what it was like meeting Mason for the first time?

13.53 Strange. Yeah, it was hard… So, when I had him, erm… because, you know, it… the pain came on so quickly, I’m guessing they didn’t have a chance to ask me before, but she asked me, would I like him on my chest? And, I said, no. And she went, okay, I’ll go clean him up and I’ll get him changed for you and then I’ll bring him in when you’re ready. Which for me was perfect because I just had to mentally build myself up for this moment because when I had him I thought… Sorry… I feel like in a way, I felt like he was living, so I didn’t want him on my chest because that would ruin that illusion. So, the… the medicine that they gave me in my thigh had kicked in at this point – it kicked in too late – and it made me very, very tired; so I had about a 20 minute nap. I couldn’t physically keep my eyes open. I was absolutely exhausted. And then I woke up and I just said, I’m ready to see him. And, I don’t know, all I felt was love. It was… it was the worst thing but the best thing that happened, I guess. It was… yeah, he was perfect. He was in a little Moses basket and they’d put him in a, a little onesie – which was too big for him – and a little hat, but… It was weird, when I found out that he died I thought, well, what am I giving birth to here? Does it… will it look like a human? And he was just a little human. He didn’t look any different to what I expected. He was just… I don’t know, perfect.

15.43 Can you tell me about the time that you spent with Mason?

15.47 That’s one thing I don’t really know what to expect, to be honest. Again, the hospital were amazing. They let us spend as long as we wanted with him, so I… I think we spent a few hours with him at that point. So, we had him from eight thirty / nine o’clock till about midnight because we were waiting for the reverend to come and christen him – as they were our wishes. So he was then christened at around midnight. They asked us if we would like him to stay in the room with us. I actually said, no. Because at this stage the body needs to stay as cold as possible to preserve them, which is just… just sounds horrific. But, you know, I wanted him to be, you know, as beautiful as he was the first time I saw him, so I just said, no, you can just keep him cool tonight and we’ll see him in the morning.

16.44 So the next day, we spent all day with him; all day. And we then went home that evening. At this point, I had signed consent forms for a post-mortem… so we went home and then they sent him away… for post-mortem. And then, he was then transported to the funeral home, of which he was there up until the funeral, and there was a seven day gap in-between those. So I went to see him everyday. Everyday I got up, I went to the funeral home and I spent time with him which was probably the hardest because… as horrible as it sounds he was just disintegrating… like in front of my eyes… which was very, very hard. But it didn’t make any difference to me because, you know, that was my little boy, I didn’t care what he looked like. He did look different. He looked different from the first time I saw him. And I was warned… and I was also told that a lot of people choose not to see their child again, but I didn’t care. And I don’t regret it, at all. I don’t regret seeing him a few days after. I don’t regret it, at all. I didn’t care. So, I’m really, really glad that I spent as long as I possibly could with him before the funeral.

18.19 Did you… Did you hold him at all?

18.23 Yeah. At first I was really… really scared to hold him. I thought he’d be too fragile. But, no, yeah, we held him. We took so, so many photos – I can’t even explain. We just took so many photos of us as a family, of which we haven’t really shown anyone; we keep to ourselves. But, we also took some photos… that, you know, we like to share with people – like, you know, close friends and family. And… I also held him at the funeral home, because he was just… at this point he had had the post-mortem which you know – you couldn’t tell, it was very non-invasive, as it possibly could be – but he was really wrapped up. So, yep, I held him even though he was a lot smaller, I held him and I cuddled him and I spoke to him as much as I could really because I was just scared that, you know, I’d never be able to hold him again. So, I just made the most of it and I tried to bond with him, like I would a normal child.

19.30 What was your friends’ and family’s reaction to you spending that time with Mason?

19.37 I had some mixed reactions. Some people told me I, I shouldn’t. Other people said, yep, you go. I’ll come with you if you want. Of which, of course, I declined. I wanted to go on my own. And at this point, Chris was at work – he came with me a couple of times – but generally I went on my own. But, at the same time, I didn’t really tell anyone when I was going. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to be on my own; didn’t really want to communicate with anyone, I just wanted to get up and just… go and see him. And spend as much time with him as possible without anyone knowing, really.

20.22 Can I ask you, kind of now, how you feel about that time that you spent with Mason?

20.28 Yeah. Don’t regret it one bit. Extremely, extremely precious to me. I didn’t actually take any photos, at this stage… I kind of wish I did, but… I don’t know, I mean, I’ve got so many photos of him and… it’s in my memory anyway, but I cannot regret the time that I spent with him and if I had spoke to anyone in the same situation as me… I would a hundred percent spend as much time with your child as possible because… I would personally have regretted it if I didn’t spend that time with him. So, yeah, for me it’s very precious and, you know, I’ll cherish those memories forever.

21.14 You mentioned that you had a post-mortem. Can you remember being offered that post-mortem and what was said to you?

21.22 Yes… I was offered a post-mortem. It was after the birth. I went through… quite a sturdy pile of paperwork… as it is something not to be taken lightly. A lot of people don’t want post-mortem… where as I, even… it was mentioned briefly to me – before I gave birth to him – but, in my head I always knew I was going to have a post-mortem. Simply because I feel like knowledge is power. You know, I’m young enough to have more children and I was absolutely going to have more children. I just felt, like, if we had a post-mortem and we found that there was something wrong with him, or something I did wrong, we could alter that for future children and future pregnancies and well… you know, prevent stillbirth. I mean every post-mortem is research, at the end of the day, towards prevention, so… yep, lots of paperwork, lots of questions, lots of signatures, but we went for it and we were happy with our choice.

22.35 Did the post-mortem reveal anything for you?

22.38 Nothing. We were told it would take up to 12 weeks. At this point, I was extremely eager to just get pregnant again, as I had a massive void in my life. At this point, I should have still been pregnant, so I wanted to be pregnant again as soon as possible. But we were strongly advised not to get pregnant before the post-mortem results arrived – which is another story. So, I actually found out I was pregnant before the 12 weeks. So, I contacted my midwife and told her. And because of this she pushed the post-mortem results through, and we had to go for a formal meeting at the hospital with my doctor and my bereavement midwife… and we found out that… they couldn’t find anything. He was normal. There were no issues with my placenta. They said that the coiling of my placenta was slightly tighter than usual but there was absolutely no research or… yeah, there was no research as to why this would have caused the death of a baby, so they didn’t put, put it down to this. It was just something that they noticed, but they don’t think it was related to the death of Mason. So… it was tough to find out, because in my head at the time, my baby had died for no reason. I’d rather have been told, look, he was very poorly and, you know, he’s probably in a better place now. But it was extremely hard and frustrating to find out that there was no reason as to why he died.

24.20 How do you feel about having gone through the post-mortem now?

24.26 It’s one of those things. If I already knew, I wouldn’t have had it. But, I guess, you don’t know do you? You don’t know. So I am glad, because, you know, that’s still research that can help towards… you know, finding a prevention; preventing this from happening to anyone else, so… I don’t regret it. I’m glad we had it and if I, god forbid, went through something like this again, I, I would do the same. I’d have a post-mortem.

25.00 Can you tell me about those first few days and weeks back at home?

25.06 Gosh, I don’t know if I can really remember them. Tough: very tough, very dark. Lonely: very lonely. Lots of flowers: my kitchen looked like a florist, literally I had no table room; I ran out of vases… yeah, a lot… lots cards in the post; a lot of phone calls; a lot of texts. Which I guess kept me mentally occupied, because I was talking to people, oh, thank you and… some people wanted to know what happened and I, I was happy to explain. Other people we didn’t hear from or didn’t ask questions. It’s a mixture of feelings in those first few weeks. And also at this time, at the first few weeks… first few weeks… days, I was trying to organise a funeral. So, I was actually busy.

25.58 I went to Mothercare and I bought Mason a… well actually I didn’t buy it – I got given a babygrow. I walked into Mothercare of which a lady came up to me and said, can I help you? And at this point, I just completely broke down. She said to me, right go, go sit outside and I’ll be with you in a moment. And she came outside and I just said to her, I’m really sorry. I’m here to get an outfit for my son who’s died. And, bless her, she, she went in there, she got the outfit and she ripped off the tags and she said, take it. And I said, no, no. I’ll come in and pay. And, she said, you’re not going back into that shop, and you’re not paying. Just, just take the outfit. And I was, like, thank you so much. And then I went to Tesco’s. I went shopping. And now I look back and I’m like, how did I do that? How did I? I don’t know how I did it. I feel like it was… a mental block, I forgot what had happened and I was trying to just keep busy and… I don’t know… so, I guess those first few weeks were kind of… I can’t really explain. It’s hard to explain, but… I feel like… I had a defence mechanism that was, sort of, protecting me from my reality, I guess.

27.20 You mentioned that people sent you cards and flowers and some people didn’t want to talk about it… what was it like telling friends and family what had happened?

27.30 Embarrassing. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed… you know, when, when you find out that you’re having a child… there’s a lot of social media platforms out there now, so, you know, you share the good news; you take photos of the clothes; the wardrobe, the cot going up… and to then have to… tell those people that had seen all these posts and that knew you were pregnant that… you weren’t pregnant anymore… yeah, it was tough; very hard. At this point – well, even now – I blame myself. I was his mother, at the end of the day, and I blame myself for him not being here. So, I was just extremely ashamed.

28.10 But at the same time I did want to talk about it, I didn’t ignore anyone who messaged me. I might have taken a while to reply to them. But, you know, I wanted people to know how I felt. I wanted them to feel my pain – in a strange way – so, I was very open with the details of what I had been through because… a lot of people were shocked that I had to give birth.  You know, people said, oh, did… so what happened to him? Did you have to give birth to him? Well, yes, of course I had to give birth to him. And they were, like, wow, we’re so sorry, like. We didn’t realise. Which, you know, highlights the fact that this topic just isn’t spoken about enough… but, you know, I had some really, really great friends who were extremely supportive and a group of my friends came up a few weeks later. We had a barbecue… and I had a smile on my face all day. And, it, you know, it was nice, but then it didn’t take me away from my reality.

29.10 But then with regards to other people – I found out who my true friends were and who my true friends weren’t. A lot of people didn’t stand up to the plate. A lot of people to this day, what, a year and a half on, still haven’t actually… you know, sent their condolences to me. So, yeah, definitely a mixed bag of responses with regards to my friends and family.

29.35 How did you and Chris grieve?

29.39 Very, very differently. I would cry a lot. I would be on my own a lot. I spent a lot of time on the internet actually, on a, a forum which specializes in… you know, it’s targeted at women who have, you know, been through late miscarriage and stillbirth. And I spoke to a lot of ladies in the exact same position as me, which if I had one piece of advice, it would be to do that. I have friends to this day now who I met on this forum. And to speak to people who are going through the same thing helped me tremendously, because it is the most loneliest place I have ever been. So to speak to women in the same position as me made me feel like… I wasn’t alone anymore. So I spent a lot of time on the computer, in the computer room, which annoyed Chris a bit.

30.34 He said I needed to get out, you know… get some fresh air; speak to my friends. But I didn’t want to do that… But, you know, we, we did go out a few times, of which was… awkward. You know, we… we have some friends who have a very large family up here and we go over there ever Sunday – even when I was pregnant we went over there every Sunday. And this one Sunday after I’d – a few Sundays after we’d lost the baby – they invited us round. And when I walked into this house, you could hear a pin drop; no one knew what to say to me. And… yeah, it was tough. It was tough but then when everyone had given me a hug, we sort of… they all warmed to me and… it was like nothing had happened and so through the grieving process times like that did help. But mainly I wanted to be on my own.

31.27 With regards to Chris: Chris was very, very different to me. I mean, chalk and cheese. Laughing, smiling… no time off work – well, minimal time off work. Going out with his friends… and just giving me some time on my own. So I feel like my grieving started pretty much immediately, whereas for him, I feel like he’s only really just started grieving in the past few months, actually. It took a long, long time for it to sink in, with him, what had happened. So, men and women grieving is very, very different.

32.09 Were you offered support or counselling?

32.12 Yes, my bereavement midwife she came around every few days and we sat and we spoke and I cried and… She would bring… she brought a little book that the hospital had made for me with photos – professional photos – that they had taken of him. And yeah, it was just beautiful. And those times I spent with her really got me through it. I’d look forward to seeing her. She’d ring me; we’d text each other; email. I was offered counselling, but I declined. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking to someone who hadn’t been through what I’d been through and didn’t fully understand. Whereas my bereavement midwife, she herself – not herself, her sister – had had a stillbirth and, you know, she, she deals with families and parents like us daily so she understood. So I sort of saw her as my counsellor. She was a trained counsellor, but I didn’t accept the separate counselling that I was offered.

33.22 Tell me about the care and support that Chris was offered. Was that different to your… to the support you were offered by the bereavement midwife?

33.31 Chris was offered the same, she said, you know, I’ll speak to Chris when I come over if he wants me to? So, in effect, you know, her being here was for both of us. But it was… I, I spoke to her each time, you know. Chris didn’t want to speak to her. He didn’t want to speak to anyone about it; but he was offered the same… support. And he was also given a book at the hospital – of which he did not read. But the support was there for both of us, yes.

34.10 Can you tell me about Mason’s funeral?

34.14 Yes, it was… it was beautiful. I mean, he… that was a really sad part actually, when the hearse – we didn’t actually have a hearse. I apologise; we had… it was like a limousine. They advised we didn’t have a hearse because the coffin was so small. And, you know, even now, if you see a hearse you do stare don’t you? You look and we didn’t really want that attention on a small coffin. So he was in the back of the limousine in a little, white coffin: a little gold plaque… and when it was pulled up it was just horrible.  It was really horrible, because all my neighbours were looking out the window and I don’t think they know what we had been through, and it was again, I felt embarrassed and ashamed like I shouldn’t be in this position. So, me and Chris got in to the back of the car and went to the crematorium. We decided to have him cremated… and, yeah, it was beautiful… we chose the songs. Chris wrote a piece, of which he didn’t want to read out, but he decided to. And that was beautiful and then…

35.24 …as everyone was leaving they were given a blue balloon and they waited outside for us and I just… I said to the funeral director, can I please just see him one more time? And they unscrewed it and let me see him. And in the coffin we had a little pair of boots that we’d bought for him when I was pregnant with him. And like special toys so he wasn’t on his own. And my friends had bought him a little toy that she wanted him to have so I put that in there and I kissed him and we said goodbye. And then we went outside and we let the balloons off and we also let a dove off… I don’t know why… we just felt like we wanted this like dove to send him a message to heaven, so we had a dove. And we then went… to the pub. We had food, drinks. We just tried to keep it as upbeat as possible and… It was actually a really nice afternoon… believe it or not.

36.29 It was nice, but then when it was over it felt, well that’s it now. Like, I can’t see him anymore. That’s it he’s gone. So that was tough. But the toughest part was going to pick up his ashes which was horrible… because it was just a tiny, tiny little box and… like there was a lady before me and – I don’t know who had passed away – but, you know, she had this big… big box of ashes and I just had a little tiny box. And it was really sad and… the ladies who gave it to me you could even tell that they felt sorry for me and it was just… it was tough. It was really horrible.

37.17 What did you do with the ashes?

37.20 They’re in our bedroom. We got a heart shaped urn and we had it engraved with his name… his initials and his date of birth. I didn’t want to scatter them because I don’t have any sort of… connection with this area and due to Chris’s work commitments if we ever had to move I wouldn’t want him to be scattered somewhere where he’d be on his own. And that’s also why I didn’t want him buried, because I didn’t want him buried here and then if we had to move, he’d be on his own. So we have his urn in our bedroom: so, wherever we go he’ll come with us. And I think we’re going to keep it that way.

38.04 How do you remember Mason now at sort of anniversaries or significant events or around the house? I mean, obviously you’ve got his urn, are there other thing and other ways that you remember him?

38.15 Initially we let off… you know the sky lanterns? So you light the bottom and then they float away? So, we did that every Sunday… initially… before we nearly set alight to the neighbour’s tree! So… we had to stop doing that. And then, we did that on monthlies… and now we… so on his birthday, we went to the beach and we let off some balloons for him. Not a lot really. We, we like to, kind of, keep it low key for him. But we have photos of him around the house; we’ve got a little corner in our bedroom of photos of him; his hand and foot prints – which the hospital did for us – which was lovely. We had those done in ink, as well as in clay. And just photos; little angels – just things like that really… just because he’s not here, I feel it’s really important that we keep him alive, you know, with us, in this house. So, you know… we try and keep it, like, you know, he’s still here.

39.28 How did you feel… you mentioned that you got pregnant quite quickly… how did you feel about getting pregnant again and having more children?

39.36 It was the one thing that was keeping me alive and functioning, was the thought of just getting pregnant again. If… and, if I didn’t get pregnant I really don’t know what I would have done because it was just the one thing… the one thing in my brain everyday, I must get pregnant. I need to get pregnant. We need to get the post­-mortem results, so we can get pregnant. But we didn’t wait. And I managed to fall pregnant straight away. Maybe that was god looking over us? Maybe it was Mason looking over us? I don’t know, but that was just the one thing that kept me going was like, right, I need to get pregnant now. So, when I did find out I was pregnant I was… so happy, but absolutely petrified – like I can’t even explain. I was absolutely petrified…

40.32 Did you have any other feelings of? Or how did the fear, sort of, manifest itself? In what way were you, kind of… what were you worried about?

40.42 I was worried about losing the baby again… and going through this all again, like this was the one thing that was going to save me from this just grief and… just daily torment of losing a baby: this was the one thing… that was going to get me through this. So, I just… I couldn’t… I can’t… I couldn’t go through it again. So I was absolutely petrified; every single day up until the day she arrived. Even up until now, I’m petrified of losing her, but the pregnancy itself was petrifying.

41.18 Can you tell me a bit more about the pregnancy and the care that you received?

41.24 Well, I could not fault the care that I received. When I found out I was pregnant, I rang my bereavement midwife who, she even said to me, I knew it. I knew you weren’t going to wait for the results, but it’s fine. Don’t worry. I’ll speed them up. We’ll get them through. It’s not a problem. If there’s any problems we’ll work with it. So that was just one thing off the list of worries… so I… well, she, she booked me a six week scan, an eight week scan, and a 12 week scan, before I’d even been to the hospital – this was just from a phone call. So I went in for the six week, which I was told, look, we’re probably not going to see anything. But we did, we did. And it was amazing, but very, very emotional. It sort of took me back to my initial scan that I had with Mason privately. But, it was amazing feeling, but again very emotional.

42.19 Then I had the 12 week – which again was amazing. And at this point, at 12 weeks, I was told I would be under the care of a consultant – because of what I’d been through – which I was fine with. I met her and she was just absolutely fantastic. She… wanted to see me every week on a Tuesday for a scan. I had tests that aren’t offered usually, so I had… a blood test and it came out that I had gestational diabetes, which was a shock. And then when I found out I had this, I thought this would have been the reason that Mason died because it wasn’t detected in my previous pregnancy maybe? We don’t know; I might not have had it with Mason. But thanks to that test I found out that I had it, so I watched what I was eating; I was offered advice; I went to a weekly diabetes clinic: which was great. You know, I can’t fault it. They were just absolutely amazing!

43.28 Every time I went there they gave me a hug. They would let me sit in a separate room when I was waiting for my scans, so I didn’t have to sit around other pregnant women – which was amazing at first, but then by the time I got to 20 weeks, I wanted to feel like a normal person. I wanted to feel like a normal, pregnant person. So, I said, look, I’m going to sit in the waiting room today. I wanted to speak to other pregnant women and I wanted to feel normal. I wanted this to be a normal pregnancy. So, the care was just… it was amazing. Everything was very thorough: very, very thorough. But, it did make me think, why? Why couldn’t it have been like this with Mason? Like, if I had this with Mason, maybe something would have been detected? Maybe he would still be here now? So, it was very… imbalanced feelings, when it came to that.

44.23 And tell me how Mason has affected your life now? Who you are? Your relationship? And, you know, you as a mum?

44.35 Not that I wasn’t nice before… it’s made me a lot nicer; especially with strangers, you know, everyone’s fighting a battle or they’re going through something that you don’t know. So, you know, I’m nicer to people. But at the same time, because I have been through the worst thing that I think anyone can really go through, it’s made me a lot stronger. You know, I don’t take rubbish off of anyone. You know, I can stand on my own two feet and say I’m a lot stronger now, you know, I’m very more… a lot more selective of my friends… so, yeah, I’m a lot more emotional though. I’m a lot more connected with my emotions. And, you know, it does scare me that something’s round the corner that you might not know… but, you know, do you live everyday life like that? I guess you’ve just got to take each day as it comes. But, it’s made me appreciate life more. And it’s made me appreciate my little girl… more than I ever thought I could.

45.42 You talk about appreciating Milena, can you tell me a little bit about… you talked about the, the antenatal care you received in your pregnancy with Milena, but what wa… what was the actual birth and the labour like with Milena?

45.55 So, after, sort of, forming a strong relationship with my consultant, when we got to… I think I was 32 weeks pregnant, we sat down and spoke about a delivery. Due to gestational diabetes… they don’t really like you going full term anyway… but because of my situation, and with Mason, my consultant said, look, she’s ready at 37 weeks, if we have a scan at 36 weeks, if she’s ticking all the boxes then, you know… she’s ready to come out the oven, so… of which I agreed with. I wanted her out as soon as possible – as long as it wasn’t, you know, compromising her health and her safety and she was ready – so we decided to go for a c-section. That was mainly because of me – I didn’t want to have a natural birth, because I had been through that… with Mason and I didn’t want to go through it again. So that was just purely down to me, so we decided to go for a c-section at 37 weeks. So we set a date, of which was the 13th, and even then they were like, do you want to go for the 13th? And, I went, yeah, you know, I’m not superstitious we’ll go for the 13th.

47.13 Went in the night before and I was weirdly… I was in the room, next to the room that I’d delivered Mason in. So it was weird. It was like bittersweet, like I’m here to give birth to a living baby, next to the room where I lost my first child. It was, it was strange, it was… and it scared me actually. Even at this point, I didn’t think I was going to have a living child: something was going to go wrong anyway. So went to sleep. Woke up in the morning – I was the first in line, thanks to my consultant! But there were a couple of emergency c-sections, so I had to wait till half past ten, of which I was then wheeled into a room full of lovely people – they were so nice – chatting about football, the news, the weather… it was just very, it was just lovely. I can’t fault it, really. It was quite a nice experience… being cut open! I can’t fault it.

48.17 And when Milena… when you met Milena, what was that like?

48.22 Well, we had a bit of a complication. When she was born, she was crying and then she stopped crying, of which I was like, why’s she not crying? And they said, oh, it’s because you’ve not had a natural birth. She’s probably got a bit of water on her lungs, it’s not a problem. So they took her to one side and just, you know, were really, really watching her – so, I hadn’t, you know, seen her face-to-face at this point – and they just said, look, she’s fine, but we need to take her to intensive care. At which point I thought, here we go again, you know. I knew something was going to go wrong. But my consultant who performed the c-section said, look, she’s fine, but you know we have to follow protocol. We want her in intensive care. We’ll keep an eye on her. She’s fine. So she was taken away and I had to go into recovery of which consisted of toast and tea and… just checking my toes and things like that.

49.25 So, I had no movement in my legs at this point, and they couldn’t take me down to the intensive care ward because – I mean, I had absolutely no movement, so getting me into a wheelchair would have also been impossible. So, I got to sit on my own… for 12 hours… whilst Chris and my mum and dad were down in intensive care with the baby and they were coming back and forth like, she’s amazing. She’s so beautiful. She looks like you. She’s doing this; she’s doing that. The midwives took photos for me – they had them printed off, and brought them to me – which was horrible, so I’m sat there sort of looking at a photo of my child but there was, like, no connection there. I thought, oh, okay that’s my child.

50.07 And then at midnight, my feeling in my legs came back enough for me to be wheeled down to intensive care. And I was quite nervous that I wouldn’t have that connection with her because I hadn’t seen her straight after the birth, but the second I saw her, like, I just knew she was my daughter and I just filled with love; it was absolutely amazing. I just wish I sort of got that feeling initially… after the birth but… I can’t… I can’t… like I don’t regret the choice I took with a c-section because the second I saw her, I just loved her more than anything.

50.43 Have you thought about whether you’ll talk to Milena about Mason and, and how you’ll do that, if you do?

50.52 Yeah, I mean, even when I was pregnant with her… I’d speak to her about her big brother. And from day one, me and Chris have always said we will incorporate Mason into her life. Not a hundred percent sure how we’re going to do it. We’ve done a few little things, like she’s got a little t-shirt that says Best Little Sister and, you know, she doesn’t understand that at this point… you know, sometimes… because Mason’s corner… her cot is next to it at the moment, so, you know, sometimes I’ll say, oh look there’s your big brother. Just little things like that… but, you know, she’s only nine months old, so… I just think it’s a gradual process, so as she gets older, we’ll speak about him more… And I don’t know, I don’t want it to… be something that upsets her, so I need to go about it in a way where… you know, she knows that she’s got an angel brother and she’s not, you know, afraid to talk about it and… I don’t want it to upset her… so I’m just going to play it by ear, but she will a hundred percent know about him. And, I want her to talk about him as openly as we do, as well.

52.03 Is there anything, I mean… sorry… what… what would you say is important for people to know about stillbirth and its impact?

52.15 Gosh, I think it’s important to know it happens. It can happen to anyone. You know, it’s not down to your health, or what you eat, or what you do. It happens to anyone and I just think it’s so important that people understand this, because if this is understood, you know, the tell tale signs are there… you know, feel your kicks; try and notice the pattern that your baby is making on a daily basis. It’s just so important to know those things because it will prevent it. But, you know, when it does happen it’s important to talk to people. You’re not alone… and you will get through it. You don’t get over it; you learn to deal with it. And I just think it’s really, really important to talk about it.

53.06 Is there anything else about the impact of stillbirth that you’d like people to know?

53.13 Er… yeah… it does change your day-to-day look on life. When you go through something like this, you’ll notice everyone’s pregnant. You can’t get away from it. Everyone’s pregnant having babies; trying for babies… and it’s hard. You know, when I lost Mason two of my friends were pregnant, so that was especially hard for me ‘cause we always spoke about… we go to like play days together and they’ll all be the same age. So, then when I lost Mason, well, they were still pregnant: and that was so, so hard. So, even away from friends… even going shopping was tough for me. It even still is now when I see new pregnancy announcements and I see ladies shopping for clothes… ‘cause I feel that has been taken from me. You know, although Milena is here safe and sound, I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy; I didn’t go through the 12 week announcement; the gender reveal… I think I probably bought her a handful of clothes a week before I was having a c-section… so… you know, testing buggies, putting up cots… that has been taken from me and even though I’ve had a child, now I feel like… even in future pregnancies, I won’t enjoy them. I won’t be doing the 12 week announcement; I won’t be revealing the gender, you know, I’ll probably let a few select friends know. So, yeah, that is tough. I mean…

54.54 Even now, when people say they’re pregnant, in my head I’m thinking… well, you could lose that baby, so why are you telling everyone? Or, oh gosh, I hope she doesn’t lose the baby – like I did. But then, you know, on the outside I’m like, wow, congratulations! Because I can’t… you know I met a friend the other day, and I knew deep down she wasn’t thinking about my situation, and then I’m sat there thinking, oh, she could lose this baby… so it’s really… my day to day life has really been affected by it, even just, you know… everyone has a friend who’s pregnant, everyone has a friend who’s going to be pregnant and it really does change the way you look at them and the situation of being pregnant in general.

55.41 Is there anything you feel particularly proud of or, or regret about the whole experience?

55.51 Oh, that’s a tough one. I’m proud I’m… I see myself as a survivor really. I look back and I’m like, how am I here? How have I survived this? Because in those early days it’s literally a minute by minute, hour by hour, just trying to survive. So, I’m proud of myself for actually surviving, I guess. And, I’ve raised money for stillbirth charities. I have spread awareness on the topic and now I’m happy to speak about Mason. If people ask me questions, I’m happy to speak about him, because it spreads awareness. And I think that is something that I should be proud of because I’ve sort of… I’m trying to create a positive out of something extremely negative. Any regrets? Not sure, really. Maybe expecting more from people… because… I was shocked at, you know, some of… some of the reactions we got. I mean, I can’t go into detail, but… even family, a lot of family members haven’t stepped up to the plate… So, I guess, I regret, sort of, you know, thinking I’d, I’d get more from people that should have really given me more. But then, at the same time, I can look at that in a positive way, and say that I’ve learnt that, you know, I am strong and I don’t need those people. And, you know, me and Chris have moved on from those people and it’s definitely, definitely made us stronger. Yeah… so, that’s that really.

57.36 Is there anything you’d like to pass on to other parents in this situation?

57.44 Speak to people. Not necessarily your friends, not necessarily your family, because you will find out 99.9% of them don’t understand. They’re telling you they understand and they’re, you know, sending you love and condolences, but they do not understand. So, talk to people in the same situation. Do not bottle it up. The one thing that I can look back on and say, that really, really helped me was speaking to women who were going through the exact same thing as me. I’ve actually made some really, really good friends – believe it or not – and I stay in touch with a lot of women that I spoke to. But even some of these women now, they’re pregnant, they’ve had future children, so speaking to them whilst they were going through their subsequent pregnancy, really, really helped me get through my subsequent pregnancy.

58.39 So, if there’s one thing I would like to share, it would be, please speak to people in the same situation as you. Don’t turn down help. I know I said that I said no to counselling initially, but I had that support from my bereavement midwife and I had the support of women going through the same thing of which I think is very similar to receiving counselling. So yeah, speak to someone, definitely.


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Baby Mason

Mason was stillborn on 5th July 2015 at 26 weeks. He weighed 1lb 10oz. Danielle’s pregnancy had been ‘textbook’ until 25 weeks when she noticed that Mason’s movements had reduced. She went to hospital and following a scan was told that Mason’s heart has stopped beating.

Danielle and Chris’s story

Chris (31) a professional footballer and Danielle (28) met through friends. They were friends for a few years before getting together. They live in the North West of England.

Danielle became pregnant with their first child in 2015. They were so excited about the pregnancy that they paid privately to have an early scan and a second scan at 16 weeks to find out the baby’s gender: they discovered they were having a boy. Returning from a holiday in Greece, Danielle noticed the baby’s movements had reduced so she went to hospital. An ultrasound scan confirmed that there was no heartbeat.  Mason was stillborn at 26 weeks of pregnancy on 5th July 2015.

Less than a month after Mason was born Danielle and Chris were pregnant again. Danielle describes this pregnancy as ‘petrifying’. She received additional antenatal care during this pregnancy and chose to deliver by caesarean section at 37 weeks. Their second child, a daughter, Milena was born on 13th April 2016. At the time of interview Milena was nine months old.