'The world went black': Moment Flintshire mum was told baby would not survive

  • Video report by ITV Cymru Wales reporter Alexandra Hartley

A mother whose daughter was born asleep has told ITV Wales, having to walk away from her baby girl was the "worst thing she has ever been through".

Philippa Davies has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has spent 18 months pregnant with five babies - but none of her children have survived.

The Flintshire mum said she felt like she had "won the lottery" when she became pregnant with baby Sam at the age of 40, following IVF treatment.

But when she was given the terrible news that Sam had Edwards Syndrome and would not survive, she had to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

Philippa said: "At the twenty-week-scan we were told she had brain cysts, just two chambers to her heart and twisted limbs, and in the words of the consultant 'she was not compatible with life'.

"It was like having the strings of my parachute cut at 10,000 feet.

"For the first few days after the news, the world went black. This is a decision no parent ever wants to face, the equivalent of turning off her life support machine in the womb.

"In Sam’s case, there was no right or wrong answer, the ultimate outcome was going to be the same, so we opted to let her choose her own time.

"I wanted her to have the best of everything, and she did, along with the most love any parents could give an unborn baby."

Sam's heart stopped beating on January 16 2012 when she was at at 32 weeks gestation - and Philippa gave birth to her a week later.

Describing the birth and the time she spent with her baby, Philippa said: "That was, and will remain, the proudest moment of my life. It didn’t matter that she never took a breath, she was our baby girl.

"We spent the most wonderful 15 hours with her. If I had been able to recreate Groundhog Day, I would have lived those hours over and over for the rest of my life.

"When you've wanted to be a mum for so long and you carry this little bundle, it didn't matter that she wasn't breathing, she was still my little girl."

'I couldn't cope. I felt I had failed so badly.

"Leaving her in a small white box and having to walk away was the worst thing I have ever been through - and the worst thing I think anybody could go through."

Philippa's mental health declined after her devastating loss - but she says she struggled to get support.

She said: "I couldn't cope, I battled with depression, I battled with anxiety, I didn't go back into a professional job for 12 months.

"I felt I had failed so badly, there was nothing I could have done but I felt like I had failed by not keeping my baby alive.

"But even despite the pain that we went through, I desperately wanted to be a mum. It's that balance between that loss and grief because the grief is multi-layered so it's not just for that beautiful baby you've lost, it's for your own motherhood."

Philippa says she still thinks about Sam, and wants something positive to come from her experience - by teaching others how to support those going through the loss of a baby and making sure bereaved parents are offered proper help.

She set up charity Our Sam last year to make sure others don't go through the same "three year wilderness" she experienced without mental health support.

She said: "Sam would have been nine this year, you never stop thinking about what they would have done, what they would look like, what their interests would be.

"From the minute you get pregnant you become a parent and that's not a switch you can turn off. I don't think I will ever accept losing babies and never being a mum, so I live with it."

'Things need to change'

"What I have learned is there are things which need to change, that is the one thing I want for other parents more than anything. Nobody should have to go through not having support and having to fight for support when you're in that state.

"Losing a baby is just horrific, there aren't any words, it's not something you can just get over. What you need is someone by your side, to hold your hand and give you a hug and to let you talk.

"You're no less proud of a baby which is born asleep and you want to talk about that baby. So it is OK to talk about those babies, you don't have to find something to say, you can just listen."